Yvonne Xu visits the studio of Bangkok-based Architectkidd and learns that a good level of fun and openness adds much to the work of architecture.
31 October, 2012
To reach Architectkidd’s office located in the neighbourhood of Ekamai, a stone’s throw away from the hip Thonglor area in Bangkok, one traverses a Thai shophouse housing an indie cafe and the working studio of noted Thai designer Anon Pairot, before finally pausing at the foot of a final flight of stairs that leads up to the home of the architectural practice. Here’s not a door but a shoe cabinet. “Don’t feel obliged to take your shoes off,” one of the principal architects, Luke Yeung, says. “I like to walk about without them, it’s up to you.”
Floating Hotel on the Kwai river is Architectkidd’s interpretation of traditional river dwellings in Western Thailand
Apparently at this office, the preferred mode of operation is not only casual and shoeless, but very much hands-on too. Along the walls of the office and in its corners are rows, heaps and clusters of models – none of them encased in precious glass boxes. Many are indeed scaled for holding in the hand, making them more for interactive discussions, less for show.
An architectural gallery wall anchors the VR Museum on the ground floor of King Power Complex’s glass dome atrium
Designed to display Buddhist artefacts, the Public Wall deepens and thins at places, creating an undulating wall that expands or contracts meditatively
The space feels more like an abundant studio than an office. The hand of the architect is very much visible here, as is an experimental spirit observable in the multitude of forms and material that have been brought in. Models can be made in Styrofoam, cardboard, clay, even coins – lined up like circular armour plates in a model of a building’s roof canopy. Evidently, material and construction techniques are key interests for the practice.
The wavy facade of Hard Rock Cafe was partly created through a process of digitalising sound waves
Tactility, materiality and porosity are key investigations in the Hard Rock Cafe project
Architectkidd is led by three principal partners Udomsak Komonvilas, Jariyawadee Lekawatana and Luke Yeung, who say they are very interested in exploring local vernacular material as design starting points for contemporary architecture.
The new retail shop concept for Thailand’s homegrown brand Caffè D´Oro is a compact, urban pitstop
The concrete shell of Caffè D´Oro is pre-fabricated
The studio often draws inspiration from local culture. For one, Yeung, one of the three principal architects, goes onto the streets to observe people’s spaces and daily life. Commonplace, everyday detail can spark a design starting point or present an elegant and unique local solution.
The hole-speckled facade of the Lightmos showroom in Thonglor was inspired by Bangkok’s unique improvisational building culture
One successful adaptation is seen in the practice’s design of the Lightmos showroom facade, inspired by improvisational nature of buildings in Bangkok. As the architects relate, shophouse owners in the city often construct or add layers to existing building surfaces to block out heat and sun. A hole-ridden facade (a clever and low-cost climatic adaptation) observed on the streets of Bangkok became the end design of the Lightmos facade in this case.
Beyond design and building, Architectkidd is also much engaged in issues surrounding the building industry. One project undertaken is Forest Urbanism, part of the Visionary Cities project for which the studio addressed the problem of deforestation and also presented new ideas of how architecture can be adapted to forests, instead of having trees make way for urban development.
Kirimaya Residence K01, located in Khao Yai
The ground floor, being close to the surrounding landscape, is built up from locally-fired tiles
A truly forward-looking practice in Thailand, Architectkidd is also using new opportunities presented by social media. The studio is active on Facebook and YouTube, and has a blog format website through which they broadcast projects, ideas and inspiration. The architects say this is their way of socialising, and a way of projecting the fun side of the practice – a characteristic that balances the critical rigour of their work, but also keeps them relevant and close to people and community.
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