Siam Discovery Mall - Bangkok (Thailand)

Nendo redefines the retail experience

Bangkok 1982, Bangkok 2016: one building, two utterly different stories
Federica Andreini
Siam Piwat
Year of completion

The New World Shopping Mall in Bangkok opened in 1982 but never reached the planned sixteenth floor. In 1997 the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration demolished seven of the building’s existing eleven floors because the owner had apparently not applied for planning permission above the fourth floor. A fire in 1999 which left the mall without a roof proved to be the final straw. Unprotected and at the mercy of the elements, the New World Shopping Mall gradually degenerated into a small natural ecosystem. The local inhabitants decided to introduce several fish species to control the swarms of flies that were breeding in stagnant rainwater. Eventually the problems generated by this chaotic self-management led the city authorities to close off the area and prevent the building from being put to any further improper use.
Following major redevelopment work carried out by Japanese architecture and design studio Nendo for the client Siam Piwat, the Siam Discovery Mall was finally reopened in May 2016. Part of a broader real-estate project that included other malls such as Siam Paragon, Siam Center and Paradise Park, the shopping centre was radically reorganised in keeping with a functional vision of retail spaces, transformed into a visitor experience through a heterogeneous blend of styles. The central concept behind the Siam Discovery Mall is that of a Lifestyle Laboratory. The architecture guides visitors and encourages them to experiment with a mixture of tastes and lifestyles at 13 curated retail spaces, a kind of arena of lifestyle experience featuring laboratory materials such as test-tubes, beakers, microscopes and diagrams of DNA sequences.
Enormous in its scope, the mall extends over 8 levels and a floor space of 40,000 square metres, much of which is paved with tiles from Gardenia’s Just Life porcelain collection chosen in four colours, including wood. While Nendo’s brief was to redevelop a severely problematical metropolitan area in terms of architecture and public health, in reality it has gone much further than this. It has reimagined the building’s retail concept, giving it new functions and setting a new standard in the management of retail spaces. Once again Nendo has achieved that element of surprise that lies at the heart of all its projects. Its aim was to restore a sense of recognition and usability to everyday life so as to convey its ontological essence. This happens when the projects that surround us have the ability to make us stop in our tracks and step outside the daily routines of our lives, making us aware of the small elements of wonder that surround us and allowing us to reclaim the spaces and moments of our existence. In this project, Nendo has achieved and perhaps exceeded its aims. Looking at the interiors and the layout of the mall, perhaps the most striking aspect is way light is used to guide visitors through the spaces. It raises the visitor’s gaze and leads it along the surface coverings to the luminous wooden boxes in the footwear area and the futuristic columns in the eyewear area. Light, surface coverings and display elements come together to forge a powerful visual experience that is further emphasised by the unconventional installation of Gardenia porcelain tiles, where the wood, marble and pure white of the Just life collection intertwine like vanishing lines. Lifestyle Laboratory becomes a new way of perceiving reality and an enduring memory of a life experience.
It is no surprise that it won two Thailand Property Awards in 2016 in the categories “Best Retail Development” and “Best Commercial Development” and that it has become Siam Piwat’s flagship project.

Gardenia Orchidea, Just life
porcelain stoneware
16x100 cm
Technical characteristics
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): ≤ 0,5%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): compliant
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): Class 5
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): ≥ 35 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R10 gruppo B
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant
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