Ole Scheeren is the head of all Asian operations of OMA
, the ground-breaking Dutch architecture firm led by Rem Koolhaas. Scheeren moved to Beijing in the mid-'00s to supervise the building of CCTV, the highly-publicized state television building. The last time I spoke to him was two years ago for a feature in PIN-UP
and at the time he seemed under pressure to finish the project in time for the Beijing Olympics. With only minor interior work on CCTV remaining, German-born 38-year-old Scheeren is now concentrating on OMA's newest venture in Asia: MahaNakhon
, a spectacular tower in downtown Bangkok, whose design is entirely the brainchild of his Beijing office. MahaNakhon is far from being a generic office tower: the glass and steel shaft is broken up by little pixel-like units revealing themselves to be apartments, terraces, and balconies that spiral around the building from the top all the way down to the ground—something Scheeren also understands as a nod to the architectural diversity in Bangkok and that of the country as a whole. At 1000 ft. MahaNakhon will be the tallest building in all of Thailand... and if Scheeren has his way, it will soon also be the one contemporary building that country will be most proud of.
FELIX BURRICHTER: How did you start working on MahaNakhon?
OLE SCHEEREN: I met the client, Sorapoj Techakraisri
, a few times in 2007 when he was looking for an architect for this new development he was starting to work on. He is very young but his family is deeply engrained in development in Thailand, although they mostly operate on a relatively simple and residential level. Sorapoj is part of a younger generation of Thai people that were partly educated abroad and return home with a lot of ambition to completely change the game. He had that dream to build a really meaningful project for Bangkok, or even for the entire country. So he was looking for an internationally experienced architect who would also really understand the local situation. And I lived in Bangkok for a couple of months in 1999, so I already had a particular insight into the city. Read More