Bangkok’s iconic ‘Robot’ building is undergoing renovations despite opposition from local cultural and architectural groups whose members fear it will lose its signature look.
The skyscraper, which stands in the business district of Sathorn, was completed in 1986. It was designed by renowned Thai architect Sumet Jumsai na Ayudhya, whose aim was to capture the technological advances of the banking industry in the appearance of the building (Sumet was later declared a national artist in 1998 Thailand). The twenty-story building thus resembles a robot made of boxes stacked on top of each other, with two circular windows “with lids” resembling eyes on the top floors. There are two lightning rods on the roof that look like antennae on the robot’s head.
How to get to the highest floors of a skyscraper? Cable car
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These days, residents and visitors to Bangkok walking through Sathorn can see that the building is completely draped in gray textiles and surrounded by scaffolding. The building is undergoing renovation, which includes the installation of a new, glass facade. In other words, it is almost certain that the appearance of the building will change significantly and that it will lose its “robot” features after the reconstruction.
This is what the representatives of the Society for the Protection of National Heritage and the Environment (SCONTE) and Docomomo Thailand, organizations focused on the protection of historical buildings in the country, are also worried about. Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt has promised in the past that he is interested in preserving the original appearance of the building and that he will “consider creating a list of heritage-protected buildings in Bangkok”. But as AP points out, the Bangkok robot is not yet on any list of legally protected buildings in the country.
The owner of the building is the United Overseas Bank (UOB), to which the architect Sumet also turned in recent days with a request to preserve its original appearance. However, the bank’s representative replied that the reconstruction was necessary and that its aim was to improve the ecological aspects of the building, as well as to increase the well-being of its employees. Sumet said: “It was painful to see that the person who signed the proposal (for the reconstruction – editor’s note) was a well-known Thai architect who had no interest in the fate of this heritage.”
The bank thus only promised that it plans to display a model of the building in its original form in the new hall inside the building.
Do you believe that the appearance of the building should be preserved at all costs?
Probably not at all costs, but surely some compromise solution could be found…
I do not know. I can’t judge that.
I think it’s pointless. It’s not that kind of terno.
A total of 1 reader voted.
They have turned an uninviting drainage channel into a place that is a joy to be in
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