A sustainable office pavilion on the Swiss embassy compound in Bangkok.
Initiated by Bruno Odermatt and supported by ambassador Mrs. Helene Budliger Artieda, the Swiss Thai Chamber of commerce had the chance to locate their new office on the Swiss embassy compound in Bangkok. The perfect location was found between the main embassy building, designed by architect Hans Hofmann and Roland Vogel in 1957, and a smaller office/apartment bungalow. The new office is embedded in the existing garden close to the car parking spaces, surrounded by existing trees.
The task was to develop a sustainable and efficient office in the existing embassy garden, with fast construction time and a minimal impact for the embassy during the construction. STCC is a tenant on the compound, but owner of the building and, therefore we needed a solution with a re-locatable building structure. The decision to use shipping containers as base structure was not only due to the requirement for a prefabricated solution, but also based on the look and feel of shipping containers, and their association to trade and commerce.
Reusing a decommissioned shipping container as the main building structure and keeping the durable Corten steel skin as visible facade helped to save resources and was part of the sustainability of the design.
To reduce the on-site construction time and increase the fabrication quality, the office pavilion got almost entirely prefabricated offsite in a factory and transported in two modules to the Swiss embassy.
It started with one 40’ high-cube shipping container, produced in 2013, which had probably travelled around the world several times. We repurposed this decommissioned container as the main structure for the Swiss Thai Chamber of Commerce pavilion by splitting it into two halves and placed them side-by-side. This generated a 27sqm office space with a footprint of 6.1×4.8m, and an inner room height of 2.6m.
This first module contains a small toilet, an entrance door, all technical equipment like an electricity main board and two aircons, and all water and sewage connections. This helped to increase the offsite work scope and reduced the onsite construction time.
Parallel to the fabrication of the office modules, a second construction team prepared the infrastructure on site. A small underground septic tank and rainwater drainage system were installed, the freshwater and electricity connections prepared, and six 12m deep micro piles were rammed into the soft Bangkok ground as the foundations of the containers.
This split site construction method increases build quality and enables a very short total construction period of only two months. Unfortunately, Covid-19 caused a temporary closure of the container fabrication facility, delays in sourcing and installation, and delays in equipment, window and furniture delivery.
Delivery & installation
Finally, the two office modules were 90% complete and were transported by truck to the embassy during the night. They were placed on their concrete foundation in just two hours, and the final assembly of the roof and the inner joints was done within a few days.
Ecological and economic sustainability was an important design factor. Using a decommissioned shipping container as main structure and facade was the first step. Thermal insulation on floors, walls, and ceilings, double-glazed insulated windows, efficient inverter Aircons, and LED lighting will help to lower energy consumption.
One of the, if not the, most important building element in south East Asia is the roof. The large elevated and ventilated butterfly roof is not only a beautiful design element: it protects the building from heavy rainfall. The large overhangs shadow the facade and the shape is optimised for ventilation to protect the office from absorbing solar heat and overheating.
The office is divided into a private office and an area for two to four workplaces by a glass wall. A small, internal toilet and storage cabinets with a fridge and water dispenser are arranged beside the entrance door to utilize the tight space efficiently.
Pendant light panels with direct and indirect LED light sources help to make the small office space feel larger.
Two large, double-glazed sliding windows open up the office to the beautiful garden surroundings visually. The office pavilion is painted a confident red as a representation of Switzerland and as contrast to the mostly-green garden surrounding. The Aircon compressors, water and electricity connection and the large rainwater drainpipe are on the back of the pavilion, not covered and hidden, but precisely arranged as part of the honest design approach.
The iconic butterfly roof appears very light due to the hidden rain gutter and gives a good balance to the strong appearance of the container body.
About regroup architecture
regroup architecture is a Bangkok-based architecture design firm, focusing on contemporary, innovative, and sustainable architecture and interior design. regroup architecture was founded in 2014 by Michael Chompookas Hansen and Lukas Guy Schnider and covers the whole design and planning process, including construction management and contracting as turnkey solutions. We see us as a mediator between Europe and Asia, a combination of Swiss design, European knowledge, and local Thai experience.
Workscope regroup architecture:
- Project design
- Construction management
- Project management
- Quality survey construction site