MahaNahkon is a new 77-story high-rise mixed-use complex located on a 3.6-acre site in the heart of Bangkok’s Central Business District. The building is designed by Ole Scheeren of Büro Ole Scheeren and developed by Pace Development. Pentagram has designed a program of environmental graphics for MahaNahkon, including dynamic digital installations for CUBE, the building’s retail component.
With its distinctive sculptural appearance, MahaNahkon has been carefully carved to introduce a three-dimensional architectural “pixel” that circles the tower’s full height, as if excavating portions of the glass curtain wall to reveal the inner life of the building. The pixelated façade gives MahaNahkon a distinctive profile that appears to be dissolving in the skyline. The complex includes The Ritz-Carlton Residences, 200 luxury condominiums; the Bangkok Edition boutique hotel, a collaboration between Marriott International and Ian Schrager; the adjacent freestanding CUBE Lifestyle and Retail Centre; and MahaNahkon Square, a public outdoor plaza that links the property to the Chongnonsi BTS Skytrain station.
The CUBE has a square façade, spanning 10 stories, that is fully covered with LED displays. The building’s custom screen was built onsite and is divided in cassettes that align with the columns of the building structure, and each cassette is used to accommodate content as a monospace element. This rigid structure helps to create and organize all content in a systematic way. A custom typeface was created for the monospaces, where each letter can expand or contract in size, covering 1, 2, 4, or 6 cassettes depending on the intended scale. A custom icon system was created to accompany the typeface.
In addition, a custom rendering system that pixelates in triangles was developed exclusively for this project. This unique system prevents low quality images from interfering with and damaging the visual experience of the screen, and at the same time enables the creation of beautiful computation animations. An example of this is the sunrise and sunset, which happens every morning and evening in sync with the real time and angle of the sun and moon.
The screen is interactive and can be operated via interior touch screens inside the CUBE building. Users can upload Instagram photos and control colors and other elements on the façade screen. A full operation schedule was created based on the flow of traffic and pedestrians and on major events and news, among other factors. It appears as a full autonomous display, displaying content such as weather, the stock market, and news, to name a few, and avoids advertising.
This project has already made an incredible impact on the surrounding community in Bangkok, and a second and third phase of it are already in the works.
"This whole project hangs together as a good example of how to activate building facades in an urban setting. The graphic design is well designed with the thoughtful construction of the monospace letterforms that are proportionately scaled with the grid created by the screens."
"This façade demonstrates how the power of bright color and fluid movement can completely transform a skyline. Because it's surrounded by stagnant architecture, this large-scale experience carries even greater impact. While I totally believe simple decoration can be of great design value, I appreciate the team's desire to integrate more informational pieces within the animation. The Instagram interaction is especially fun (because who wouldn't want to have their face plastered on a building?) and I applaud the team's decision to steer away from promotional content — to me it seems like the respectful, responsible choice."
Eddie Opara (partner in charge), Brankica Harvey (associate and designer), Pedro Mendes (designer)
Büro Ole Scheeren (architect)
Shrim Asia (fabrication), Bit Studio (digital development)