Sky’s the Limit
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.