Sky’s the Limit

Bespoke - - OLE SCHEEREN -

Ole Scheeren’s Ma­hanakhon is now Bangkok’s tallest sky­scraper. CNN Style pro­ducer Stephy Chung in­ter­views the Ger­man ar­chi­tect in­side his ‘un­fin­ished’ sky­scraper, a pix­e­lated 77-story build­ing slated to open later this year.

Did any­thing sur­prise you as Ma­hanakhon was built? Do you find your­self at this stage, still try­ing to ad­just its de­sign? I’ve al­ways felt that I have a strong abil­ity to see things, and to see them quite real­is­ti­cally. At large, there are very few things that are sur­pris­ing in the sense that the de­sign is ul­ti­mately pro­jected. There’s a lot of images, vi­su­al­i­sa­tions and mod­els that show how in­cred­i­bly close re­al­ity ends up be­ing to those pro­duced vi­sions. At the same time, the beauty of ar­chi­tec­ture and phys­i­cal pro­duc­tion is that it’s a process that never quite stops – you do have to pay at­ten­tion to the very end. You have to live the idea to the very end and if you’re not at­ten­tive along the way, many things can hap­pen and many things do hap­pen. You have to keep your over­all vi­sion in­tact, but also to be able to re­think things as new sce­nar­ios and sit­u­a­tions emerge.

With its pix­e­lated façade, Ma­hanakhon looks al­most as if it’s be­ing cen­sored from the Bangkok sky­line. Can you tell us more about the de­sign it­self. One thing I be­lieve is im­por­tant and ac­tu­ally has a great qual­ity is a sense of com­plex­ity, di­ver­sity or va­ri­ety. My sense of space is one that is not sim­plis­tic but I be­lieve in the in­ter­est of space and also the power of space to do some­thing to the peo­ple that in­habit it. If you look at Ma­hanakhon, there’s so many dif­fer­ent ways in which you can in­habit or ex­pe­ri­ence the build­ing. You could be hid­ing in some of its pix­els, or re­veal­ing your­self in some of them. You could stand on top of it (there’s a 360-de­gree view ob­ser­va­tion deck), or go through the very pub­lic ter­races on the ground. There are so many dif­fer­ent mo­ments in it, and that’s some­thing I’m in­ter­ested in -- to give peo­ple the choices and free­dom of an en­vi­ron­ment that leaves things open, that doesn’t de­ter­mine every­thing for every­body.

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