The last ten years have seen the Bangkok skyline grow at an exponential rate. This period of construction peaked with Baiyoke II in 1997, which subsequently held onto the crown of the tallest building in Thailand for 19 years. However, in four years’ time, it won’t even be in the top five.
Just recently, it was usurped by the Jenga-brick-like MahaNakhon Tower and there’s much more to come. BKKme traces our city’s evolving skyline back to the 60s and takes a glimpse into how things are set to shape up by 2020. Or probably more like 2022.
Dusit Thani Hotel, 23 storeys / 82 meters / completed 196
At a whopping 82 meters, when the Dusit Thani Hotel opened in 1970 it towered over pretty much everything that existed in the city at the time. The landmark quickly became the hotel of choice for foreign visitors, strategically placed in between the Old City in the east and the emerging Sukhumvit district to the west. It remained the tallest structure in the country for a full decade, with the top floors home to Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand throughout the nineties, eventually being replaced by a fine-dining restaurant.
Subject to numerous makeovers and expansions over the years, the Dusit Thani still stands guard over the entrance to Silom. Definitely a favorite hotel for those looking to add a touch of nostalgia to their stay in Bangkok.
Baiyoke Tower 1, 42 storeys /150 meters / completed 1987
A skyscraper is any building over 150 meters in height and consisting of 40 floors. With this in mind, Baiyoke Tower 1, completed in 1987, can well be considered Bangkok’s first ever skyscraper. Today, the now-dilapidated building looks relatively tiny sitting in the shadows of its younger and taller brother, Baiyoke II, which was finished 12 years later.
Thai Wah Tower II, 60 storeys / 197 meters / completed 1996
Never heard of Thai Wah Tower? Neither had we until we discovered it’s just the name of the building that Banyan Tree Hotel has claimed for almost two decades now.
Geeky architectural information time: Thai Wah Tower II aka Banyan Tree was officially the tallest ‘completed’ building in Thailand for one year between 1996 and 1997; however, the ongoing Baiyoke Tower was way ahead in terms of height—it just wasn’t officially opened until a year after Thai Wah. Now there’s some priceless dinner table ammunition right there.
Baiyoke Tower II, 85 storeys / 304 meters / completed 1997
This golden oldie, at the time of writing, is still the second tallest building in Thailand and also contains the highest hotel rooms in the whole of Southeast Asia. But the city’s first ever structure to join the ‘300+ Club’ is showing its age; the brutal concrete façade stands out like a rusty fishing boat in a sea of glittering cruise ships. The revolving restaurant and viewing platform at the top are both in need of a makeover. Construction started in 1990, and the whole project is estimated to have cost a rather economic 3.6 billion baht: about the same price as six luxury apartments atop the new MahaNakhon Tower (see down).
State Tower (Lebua), 68 storeys / 247 meters / completed 2001
Perhaps Bangkok’s most recognizable contemporary landmark is the State Tower on Silom Road. This was the second tallest building in the city for a full decade before it was surpassed by the less remarkable but slightly higher River South Tower on the banks of the Chao Phraya.
The State Tower is best-known for being home to Lebua Hotel; the smart suites on the upper floors offer stunning views of the city, while the world-famous Sky Bar and its golden dome need little introduction.
MahaNakhon Tower, 77 storeys / 314 meters / due start of 2017
If you are inspecting Bangkok’s skyline from the other side of the city, MahaNakhon Tower might appear to be just another forgettable glass-fronted addition to Sathorn’s ever growing CBD. Alight at the BTS at Chong Nongsi, however, and you’ll quickly realize that this multi-billion-baht project is something quite special.
Get up close to MahaNakhon and it’s almost difficult to take your gaze off the Lego-brick-like structure, which stretches 314 meters into the sky, already making it the city’s tallest (despite not officially opening yet). The intricate, pixelated construction reminds us of some futuristic vertical city and the units you see will soon be home to 200 luxurious Ritz-Carlton Residences and a hotel. Lower down, MahaNakhon will feature a mall, numerous restaurants, bars and a sky bridge to the BTS.
Magnolia Ratchadamri, 60 storeys / 242 meters / due start of 2017
Another giant shard of glass that’s already risen high into the Bangkok sky, Magnolia Ratchadamri is set to be completed at the start of 2017. The building will be shared between Magnolia’s luxurious residences on the lower floors, while the top will be home to Waldorf Astoria’s first hotel in Thailand. Some images have emerged online of the breathtaking rooftop swimming pool and bar, affording some spectacular views over the adjacent Royal Sports Club and Chid Lom district.
ICONSIAM, 70 storeys / 315 meters / due 2017
Unveiled back in 2012, the plans for ICONSIAM are as flashy as they are enriching. Sure, there’s the odd superficial addition (a large shopping complex, a Michelin star affiliated restaurant, and a high-tech cineplex), but the riverfront development will also house what the developer is calling ‘The Seven Wonders of the ICONSIAM.’
The ‘wonders’ aim to bring high-end experiences to the Klong San location, with a strong focus on Thai culture, art, and history. These include an indoor floating market, a world-class performance space on the banks of the Chao Phraya River and The ICONSIAM Heritage Museum. The tallest building of the bunch, Magnolias Waterfront Residences, will stand proud at 315 meters.
Landmark Waterfront (Four Seasons), 74 storeys / 305 meters / due 2017
With 10-billion-baht invested by Country Group Development Plc, the 305-meter project is now underway on Sathorn’s Charoen Krung Road, occupying the spot where the fish market of Fish Marketing Organisation once sat. The Landmark Waterfront will be divided into three main areas: Four Seasons Residences, a Capella six-star hotel, and a Jumeirah five-star hotel.
Circle Sukhumvit 36, 110 storeys / 447 meters / due 2019 (TBC)
Few concrete facts are known about this new 20-billion-baht condominium project, other than it’s going to be built on an empty plot of land on the corner of Sukhumvit 36 and it’s going to be absolutely ginormous. Thai property developers Fragrant Group have already made their mark on the capital’s housing market, with a couple of ‘Circle’ branded luxury condos completed around Petchburi Road. While the exact height, number of floors, or even the actual design haven’t yet been finalized (apparently two final proposals are being considered), what is for sure is that Circle Sukhumvit 36 will be one of the tallest buildings in Bangkok upon its completion in around three years’ time. And the views are going to be insane.
Rama IX Super Tower, 125 storeys / 615 meters / due 2020 (TBC)
Not just the tallest building in Bangkok, the Rama IX Super Tower will be the tallest man-made structure in the whole of Southeast Asia upon completion in 2019.
Standing at a lofty 615 meters, the 125-storey tower skyscraper will dwarf the nearly completed MahaNakhon – which at 314 meters, will hold the city’s tallest building title for a mere one or two years.
Thai owned developer G-Land have grand plans for the Rama 9 project, with a 260-room luxury hotel, offices, a rooftop garden and an observation deck all on the agenda. The ambitious project is also part of a wider plan to reinvigorate the Rama 9 area, transforming it into Bangkok’s new central business district. According to the developer: “This skyscraper is going to be the new landmark of Thailand, a world-class attraction that everyone must visit at least once in their lifetime.”
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