An Embassy Building as a Representative of one nation in another cultural area acts as an important social, cultural and technological link.
Respecting characteristics of both countries leads to a symbiotic space. Austrian achievements in the fields of research, culture, energy production and saving as well as technology intertwines with culture specific Thai way of living and building traditions. The created building ensemble offers an inspiring atmosphere for environmental and technological exchange within contemporary architecture.
Photovoltaic modules, optimized glass elements, low tech cooling system and construction details as technical innovations are combined with local materials such as laterite, travertine and teak. Together they create a holistic and sustainable building.
Respect for social achievements in Thai cohabitation as well as the analysis of Thai traditional building typologies are the beginning of our design process. One basic conclusion is the effective inclusion of typical and experienced living together in Thai housing, meaning to create a common space in the center and gather several buildings around it following different functional needs. The implementation of the findings obtained about Thai habits into the requirements of a high security office building based on European demands and standards is the main challenge besides special weather occurrences like high temperature, high humidity and heavy rainfall.
We define as common space the main courtyard with existing trees and shady areas for social interactions used by employees and visitors during performances but also as a protected area in case of emergencies. During hot and humid periods the multifunctional room next to the courtyard serves as common area for events and everyday usage with doors connecting to it from the outside.
All office rooms face to the main courtyard with repeating glass elements. In the lower level we offer each person to exit to the outside through large doors and therefore increase their individual well being. Cantilevered roofs, trees and special sun glass protect the office areas from direct sunlight and heavy rain. All glass elements perform high light transmission and low solar energy transportation as well as a high heat insulation value. We cared a lot about the right combination of these three values to prevent artificial light during daytime, protect the inside from getting hot and permit the building to cool down during the night. An individual smaller courtyard with trees welcomes the Thai visitors for the visa section and guides them along the guard house to the inner building part. Waiting area inside and outside create a vivid atmosphere while waiting under the cantilevered steel roof with photovoltaic modules.
For energy production the photovoltaic roofs work as a kind of solar energy factory and for less energy consumption the fresh air is cooled down by the main air handling unit and sent to the fan coils for an average temperature of 25° and 55% humidity inside the office rooms. Used air then partly leaves the room through overflow-louvers into the courtyard and partly is guided back to the fan coil in the suspended ceiling in the corridors. Secondary rooms like sanitary and storage areas are supported with cooled air from the corridors and therefore no separate energy is needed for them.
Main traditional resources are detachment, natural airflow, cantilevered roofs and shady trees. The topic of preventing direct sun to the inner construction layers are integrated in several ways. The detached steel roof with photovoltaic modules protects the direct sun to heat up the on-site concrete roof. The detached Laterite layer with ventilating air flow keeps away the heat of the sun from the inner prefabricated concrete walls.
Shady existing trees and cantilevered steel roofs serve as sun and rain protection, whereas the steel roof serves as structure for photovoltaic modules and the flat roof above the parking area serves as rainwater collector for the cistern. The water is used for watering trees and plants on site.
Solar energy retained by photovoltaic modules can be used immediately for cooling the buildings during the office hours and therefore no batteries are needed to keep the energy stored. This fact makes the photovoltaic energy perfect for this region.
Existing trees, which have a high value in Thai society, are integrated into the holisitic and sustainable design. They are used as landscape elements as well as for their shading qualities to protect the glass facades from long solar impact. Five functionally different buildings are located along the site boundaries, creating spacious courtyards with existing trees, in accordance with Thai traditional typologies.
The structural concept of the buildings follows the idea of sustainability. They are designed as concrete skeletons, filled in with facades that are conceptually defined and contextually made of local materials. The three materialities Laterite (conglomerate stone), Teak (wood from state plantation) and Glass/Aluminum (special light/heat glass and frame) are appropriate to realize the concept of a functional envelope.
To the outside Laterite and perforated Teak create a secure but transparent surface. Glass extends office spaces into the courtyard with trees and creates a common atmosphere and community area for employees and visitors, facing nature. Travertine as flooring material used inside and outside supports the idea of spatial extension. Laterite, once used for temples, has an interesting appearance and wonderful natural red color (from the substance of iron in the earth) and can be used perfect as filling element because of its lack of vertical carrying capacity. Perforated Teak wood, organized from state controlled plantations, is used as an air ventilation element surrounding the courtyard and serving as a protection filter to the street.
Marlies Breuss, Arch. Dipl.Ing. M.Arch [SciArc]
studied Piano and Composition, graduated in Architecture from Vienna University of Technology, Postgraduate Master Programme at Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI Arc, M.Arch.II) in Los Angeles. 95-01. Visiting Professor TU Vienna 2019, Workshops in Bangkok, Turin and Paris. University Lecturer at different Universities since 1996.
Michael Ogertschnig, Arch. Dipl.Ing.
studied Architecture at Vienna University of Technology, Postgraduate Course at Barcelona IAAS/MACBA. Teaching assignments at Vienna University of Technology.
Lectures: in Bangkok, Budapest, Banska Bystrica, Coburg, Hittisau, Milano, Paris, Prag, Salvador, Stuttgart, Vienna, Zagreb. Exhibition participations: in Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Saint Petersburg, Rome, Helsinki, Shanghai, Paris, Milan, Pärnu, Crete, Bratislava, Bucarest, Tel Aviv, Taipei, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Krakaw, Prag, New York, Mumbai.