Studio Vincent Van Duysen Architects were commissioned by Central Group to redesign the original 1950s-erected building where its owners, a father-and-son team, had built and cultivated their businesses that would later become Thailand’s largest retail conglomerate.
A creative space that is equal parts store, café, bar and gallery, Central: The Original Store weaves itself into the urban fabric of Bangkok’s Chidlom neighbourhood with an exterior of traditional, hand-crafted terracotta tiles from Lampang province, mirroring its original frontage. Piercing the imposing façade are floor-to-ceiling windows that offer views of the lively district and a steady stream of natural light. Inside, an elegant entryway dressed in terrazzo floors, bespoke iron vitrines and wooden-beamed concrete ceilings visually sets the tone for the rest of the space. “This is not a remake, but rather a tribute to the era’s unspoken language of aesthetic unity,” the studio says.
Each floor unveils a unique purpose and function. The ground level opens up to a café with access to a leafy courtyard, an architectural features that bridges the old with the new. Designed by Japanese studio Tripsters, the coffee and refreshments give way to a bar and live music as soon as dusk takes over.
A sculpted staircase leads to the sunny Retail Library, featuring an extensive book collection that underlines the building’s story and purpose. The two remaining floors are exhibition and event spaces, equipped with a large moveable display case that can divide the volume accordingly.
Capping off Central is the rooftop terrace restaurant Arksorn, which serves innovative Thai cuisine with a side of stunning 360° views of the city skyline and a bird’s eye view of the bustling Charoen Krung Road.