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When it comes to southern architects, the Sino-Portuguese (colonial architecture) is always at the top of the list! Let’s take a look at Bangchak SINO, a retail and commercial building at Bangchak Gas Station in Hat Yai. The architecture is redesigned by ILIKEDESIGNSTUDIO who interpreted and adapted the Sino-Portuguese (Colonial) style into modernity while integrating some elements that perfectly highlight the iconic character of the space.
The new building inspired by the cross-section
of the Sino-Portuguese shophouse.
Why does it have to be in a Sino-Portuguese style? Mr.Benz- Narucha Kuwattanapasiri, the architect, told us that “ the project owner wished to build a commercial building in the gas station, to which he thought that there was no such iconic modern architecture in Hat Yai yet. So, he did some research on all of Hat Yai’s attractions until he came across a Sino-Portuguese-style house while strolling around the old town’s market. It inspired him since the Sino-Portuguese also plays a role in Hat Yai’s history.”
However, Mr. Benz believes that many people have already seen the Sino-Portuguese concept applied directly to the design. So, he and his team rethought how people may recognize such characters from the building if not by using the Sino-Portuguese character.
From the challenge to the research, it discovered a cross-section (Section) of the Sino-style commercial building. What is intriguing is that the front is divided into a commercial area while the rear is a residential area. Both are separated by a central chord hidden within.
I think it’s appealing because typically people would choose a replica façade in their design, and visitors could only see the façade or the shophouse at the front. So, I decided to tell a story using a Section that was once hidden and is rarely be seen instead.”
From the concept’s diagram, the Section is unfolded into a function of two commercial buildings. The central building is a minimart, designed as a one-story building in the most minimal way possible. It functions as a supplementary building that allows the main buildings to stand out. Furthermore, there is a green chord in between the frontmost building, which houses an Inthanin coffee shop, and the mini-mart building. The green chord also gives the café a view.
As for the main building in the back, the upper area is an office, and the lower part is a future rental space that the owner has planned. Between this building and the minimart in the middle is likewise connected by an open-air chord.
The designer added some forms or elements to other parts of the building by combining Sino-Portuguese with modernity, such as the Sino Façade imitating the house design with small cornices and the size of corners being slightly reduced, just like the original characters. However, some elements have been reduced and modernized according to the owner’s preferences. Even the corridor was designed with many pillar bases, similar to the arcade with archways along the walkway.
History brought together with modernity
Aside from that, the building is harmoniously blended with modernity. The upper floor is designed in dark tones and incorporates modern materials such as steel while contrasting with the brightly coloured base building that makes the buildings look light and reduces their opacity as if they were floating.
“We originally intended to make frameless windows on the window side because we wanted to expose the rafters and purlins inserted into the building. However, as the project progressed, we learned that the windows are facing the sun and would collect so much heat that this area could not be used. So, we combined steel frames, and it turned out to be a Sino-Portuguese building with a modern atmosphere.”
Something More: Among most of the materials used, Mr. Benz chose market-available materials, such as artificial bricks, and steel. He added that the fun part of the construction was due to the contractor who completed the entire reinforced concrete base of the building and then weld the steel structure of the entire second-floor building as well as the roof from the work site on the ground before using a crane to lift the whole building for installation.
“On the installation day, we were excited. Due to the Covid-19 scenario, we seldom ever visit the site and instead communicate primarily through the Line application. Fortunately, the owner understands the design and the contractor is competent. Hence, the job was completed smoothly.”
At this point, you might be wondering why the commercial buildings in Bangchak Gas Station are not concerned with the brand’s character or CI. That is because recently Bangchak decided that each branch should have a unique identity, based on its location and context. As a result, the works are highly diverse and perfectly depict the identity of that location.
“As a designer, I’m satisfied. Recently, the clients are at a young age. The new generation focuses on design work. They seek individuality, self-expression, and for the project to be special to them. It’s not just a gas station. But in daily life, anything can be designed. So, we’ve seen more open-minded designs, not the same old stuff that lacks liveliness.”
Location : Tha Chang, Bang Klam, Songkhla, Thailand.
Client : Tanaphiwat Supplies Co.,Ltd.
Area : 850 sq. m.
Architects : Narucha Kuwattanapasiri , Warakorn Chareonrat , Thammanoon Phansaard
Interior Architect : Narucha Kuwattanapasiri , Petchusa Kuwattanapasiri
Structural & System Engineer : Kor-It Structural Design and Construction Co.,Ltd
Photographs : Soopakorn Srisakul