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The future is now

Supercars, exotic gardens, an oceanarium, the opera and, yes, even hectares of shopping are all found at this futuristic mega mall

An exterior view of a shopping mall. architecture, building, city, cityscape, downtown, landmark, light, lighting, metropolis, metropolitan area, mixed use, night, reflection, sky, structure, tourist attraction, blue
An exterior view of a shopping mall.

Shopping centres of the past, even on the grandest scale, have largely focused on the business of retail with the odd extra' thrown in for good measure. Everything changes however, and the cutting-edge complex of today will seek to educate, entertain, even amaze as well as tug at the millions of visitors' purse strings.

The huge new Siam Paragon shopping centre in the heart of Bangkok is built partly on the site of a previous landmark, the city's old Intercontinental Hotel. A joint venture between The Mall Group and BHIC (Bangkok Intercontinental Hotels Co), the new landmark project comprises 50ha of floorspace on 21ha of land and is conceived as a national showpiece for Thailand. Celebrated architectural and interior design teams from around the world were sourced to create a complex unprecedented in the Asian region.

Among those involved were French interior designers Jacqueline and Henri Boiffils. Here Jacqueline Boiffils outlines the design progression of Siam Paragon and how trends are evolving in a world where materialism and culture are merging.

"Given the exceptional location in the centre of Bangkok, our brief was to create a project that was both commercially and culturally focused. Our response was instant. Bangkok was lacking a sense of theatre, so we suggested that we create one that married multi-faceted entertainment venues with up-scale shops. At the same time, we wanted to broaden Siam Paragon's cultural focus through a homage to nature, creating an expansive garden for Bangkok residents to enjoy," says Boiffils.

The Boiffils also proposed introducing a giant oceanarium and overlapping natural elements into the project, to sensitise locals to the beauty of their natural heritage and the need for its preservation. The idea of integrating a vertical garden and other natural elements arrived as the project evolved.


A view of the Siam Ocean World. art, light, lighting, night, reflection, tree, water, black
A view of the Siam Ocean World.

"Of course, shopping meccas still have to sell goods and make money, but this is no longer enough," says Boiffils. "The shopping centre of today has a new vocation: a cultural obligation. That is why these shrines to consumerism are increasingly the preserve of renowned architects."

The project's bigger picture incorporates a five-star hotel and luxury serviced apartments, the global retail entertainment complex and a large park and internal road.

The shopping and entertainment complex comprises hectares of retail opportunity. On the ground floor there is a gourmet market, a mezzanine level has a massive beauty hall, the first floor focuses on fashion, the fourth floor has a gigantic IT store ... and the shopping list goes on. There is also room for a Siam Paragon department store.

The ceilling plays an integral, if unusual role in the overall design, with the creation of indirect lighting using fluorescence."This allows us to generate energy savings in terms of consumption as well as air-conditioning," the architect explains.

For entertainment and culture, Siam Ocean World is at basement level, whilst the Siam Opera theatre and exhibition and convention centres, cinemas, including IMAX theatres, and an Edutainment Centre' are all on the top two floors.

An interior view of the Emporio Armani store. architecture, building, condominium, daylighting, glass, lobby, metropolitan area, mixed use, structure, window, gray, black
An interior view of the Emporio Armani store.

"The scale of everything is huge - including our gleaming beacon, the diamond rotunda, for which we had to create a wind tunnel, complete with a huge aeroplane motor, to test its resistance to wind," says Boiffils.

While the rotunda provides a beckoning signal from above, access to the complex via a skytrain station at ground level is another drawcard.

"From its central location to its million things to see and experience, everything recommends Siam Paragon as a shopping mecca for both Thais and international tourists alike," says Boiffils.

Story by: Trendsideas

23 Jun, 2006

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