Dezeen Magazine

Central Embassy by Amanda Levete Architects

Amanda Levete Architects have unveiled Central Embassy, a 30-storey retail and hotel project in Bangkok, Thailand.


The tower will be built in the former gardens of the British Embassy in the city.


Amanda Levete Architects was formed after Levete and former partner Jan Kaplicky, who had previously worked together as Future Systems architects, went their separate ways.


Kaplicky died earlier this year.

Here's some info about the Bangkok project provided by Amanda Levete Architects, followed by an announcement on the formation of the office sent out earlier this month:


Amanda Levete Architects Announce Architectural Landmark for Bangkok

Amanda Levete Architects is to develop a major retail and hotel complex in central Bangkok, Thailand. Central Embassy, located on Bangkok’s primary commercial artery Ploen Chit Road, will be a new architectural landmark for the city and region.


The 1.5 million sq ft project will occupy the former gardens of the British Embassy in Nai Lert Park, and will consist of a 7-storey retail podium and a 30-storey 6-star hotel tower. Work on site is scheduled to begin in 2010 and to complete in 2013.


“Central Embassy will be the first contemporary landmark building in Bangkok. It is demonstrably of its time but rooted in Thai heritage and culture. Our architectural ambition is matched by the ambition of Central to create the best and most exciting retail and hotel destination in Thailand.” - Amanda Levete


The design merges the distinct features of a podium and tower into a sinuous and continuously twisting coil. The form wraps around two vertical light wells in the retail podium and at the same time encloses and exposes a series of exterior courtyards and roof gardens for the hotel. Internal spaces break apart to reveal stepped terraces and vertical gardens.

“Our design for this project has been underpinned by two strands of parallel research. We carried out extensive studies in Thailand exploring and documenting traditional patterns, materials and fabrication methods. In tandem, we’ve experimented with the application of advanced digital design techniques such as scripting and parametric modelling as a means of abstracting our hands-on research to create an innovative synthesis of technology and heritage that is specific to the context of Bangkok.” - Alvin Huang, Project Director, Amanda Levete Architects

Drawing on motifs and patterns found in traditional Thai architecture, the facade of the building is composed of a dynamic and fluid three-dimensional array of ceramic tiles. Changes in gradient, rotation and spacing break the long spans of continuous frontage into a rich pattern.

On regarding the facade, this design element will draw attention to the building’s coiling form and give varied impressions of the depth, shape and colour of its skin with each step taken. Conceived with the intention of reinterpreting Thai heritage and culture in a modern context, the project is a unique opportunity to merge traditional craftsmanship with contemporary digital design.

Renowned for attention to detail and with a track record in delivering iconic architecture for retail and leisure, Amanda Levete Architects will produce a stunning landmark for the city of Bangkok.


12 March 2009


We are pleased to announce the formation of Amanda Levete Architects following the late Jan Kaplicky and Levete’s decision in 2007 to pursue independent interests.

Amanda Levete has formed the new office together with directors Alvin Huang, Kwamina Monney and Ho-Yin Ng on a strong foundation of established and new projects and a reputation for work of originality and integrity. The ethos of the office is rooted in design research. As an extension of this agenda, we use the design of furniture to explore architectural ideas and test material possibilities at a smaller, more intimate scale. The team is a talented multi-national group of architects, designers, graphics specialists and engineers working at the intersection of design, technology and materiality, whose work is groundbreaking and thought provoking.

The new office begins with the prestigious international projects won by Levete in recent years. Among them is the redevelopment of media giant News International's headquarters in east London to create a campus for its UK operations including the Times, Sunday Times, News of the World and the Sun newspapers and other News Corporation businesses including Dow Jones, Harper Collins, MySpace and 20th Century Fox.

In Thailand Amanda Levete Architects has been commissioned to design a resort and private collection of villas for  private investors and a 1.5 million sq ft retail and hotel development in Bangkok for Central Retail Corporation. The office has recently won a competition to design a mixed-use complex in East London for developer Londonewcastle. Projects currently under construction include Spencer Dock Bridge in Dublin, a subway station in Naples in collaboration with artist Anish Kapoor, as well as offices in Oxford Street and a City Academy in Southwark.

The formation of the new office follows the end of Levete's 20 year partnership with Jan Kaplicky at the influential Future Systems. One of the most innovative practices of its time, Future Systems completed award winning and internationally recognised buildings including Selfridges department store in Birmingham and the media centre at Lord's cricket ground which won the prestigious Stirling Prize.

More Dezeen stories about Future Systems:



Jan Kaplicky 1937-2009


Oxford Street facade


Antonín Dvořák concert and congress centre


Bettina by Jan Kaplicky


Around the Corner by Amanda Levete


Amanda Levete at London Design Festival 2007 (video)


Amanda Levete installation at London Design Festival 2007