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Architecture of Bangkok Thailand
Bangkok has quietly but zealously become an architectural powerhouse of late. Take a closer look, explore streets, traverse back alleys, and you'll encounter classic teak houses, heady Italian influenced architecture, and plush skyscrapers that work steel and glass to dazzling effect.
Jim Thompson House
The former home of Jim Thompson is visited by over 400 people a day and serves as a museum showcasing Thai architecture and art. It's a beautiful teak house with lots of interesting art objects, sculpture and everyday items used 40 years ago.
The house, located along one of Bangkok's few remaining canals, origianally came from outside Bangkok and was assembled from six smaller houses comibined into one. Made entirely of teak, Thompson used classic Thai architecture to create a unique house which houses a collection of Asian art and arifacts, ranging from hair ornaments to stone scupltures. Guided tours show you around the house which also contains a coffee shop in the delightful garden.
M.R. Kukrit's Home
Thailand's Prime Minister from 1974 to 1975, M.R. Kukrit Pramoj and his beautiful home on Soi Suan Phlu were often the focus of national politics during times of turbulence, with journalists flocking outside. Today, thanks to the Kukrit 80 Foundation, it's the public who now flock to see the elegant home of this intellectual leader.
Italian Renaissance architecture that had such an impact on public buildings here in the early 20th Century. Opened in 1916 after six years of building, its concave wooden roofs, stained glass windows and overall aura of elegance are the work of Turin-born architect Mario Tamagno, who also designed Bang Khunprom Palace and the Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall.
Phra Sumen Fort
During the reign of King Rama I, fourteen forts were built to protect the borders of the Old City, but most have disappeared over the years. Only this one, on Phra Arthit road, and the Mahakhan Fort on Ratchadamnoen road now remain. Nestled in the quiet Suan Santichaiparkran Park, which itself straddles the banks of the Chao Phraya River, the hexagonal shape of this pale white concrete fort, with battlements, canons and observation deck are still in good, albeit slightly distressed looking shape. If you come here during the day, combine your visit with a spot of relaxation in the park, or lunch at one of Phra Arthit Road's hole-in-the-wall restaurants.
A popular sojourn for those looking to pick up Thai silk, antiques, jewellery, carpets and art, OP Place is also something of a destination in itself. Built in 1908 and constructed in elegant Neoclassical style, this impressive white stone Asian Heritage Shopping Centre, originally known as the Falck & Beidek Store, exudes an atmosphere reminiscent of old Bangkok.
It consists of two storeys with a three-storey tower at each end and wonderfully gabled porches. Vintage flair is added by a manually operated elevator. Not to be missed is the Ashwood Gallery, which features works ranging from 19th Century Burmese alabaster sculptures to Chinese and Japanese prints, and a branch of Chitralada shop, a project initiated by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit.
An elephantine landmark in the Chatuchak district, the Elephant Tower is one of the most unique buildings in Bangkok. The three towers (A, B, and C) make up a shape of Thailand's national animal, which can be seen even from the Expressway. On the right edge of the building you can also see an eye and tusk. The building is used as a condominium, office space, and also houses a language school.
Baiyoke Tower II
A 304 metres tall and rising 85 floors into the sky, Baiyoke Tower II is Bangkok's (and Thailand's) tallest building. Construction was completed in 1997. The building has a public observatory deck on the 77th floor, and on the top floor is Thailand's first and only open-air, 360-degree revolving roof deck (open from 10:30 until 22:00, admission 200 baht), offering a bird's-eye view of this sprawling city. The world's third-tallest hotel, Baiyoke Sky Hotel, covers from the 22nd up to the 74th floor.
United Overseas Bank (Robot Building)
First opened in 1986, the 'robot building' is located on South Sathorn Road. According to the architect, the original inspiration for the 20-storey building came from his son's toy robot. Complete with 'eyes' and 'antennae', the building's quirky characteristics masks the fact that the elements in the exterior design serve real purpose. For instance, the oversized 'bolts' and 'caterpillar wheels' act as sunshades and canopies.
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