Mall Wars

4 04 2016

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Bangkok’s ongoing mall wars are a never-ending feature of its retail landscape. Currently the spectacular Emquartier development at Phrom Phong has the city enthralled, with the new and almost-as-flashy Central Embassy trailing and Gaysorn Plaza, which was shaken by the recent Erawan shrine bombing, the most obvious loser. Previously the city’s most high-end complex, Gaysorn is now looking sorely dated and outgunned. It was compensating for this (when I was there) with a pretty fabulous exhibition of Japanese samurai armour and eighteenth century art (much of it sale) in what I realised would otherwise have been a vacant store.

 

Also, there was the amazing “dead bird” sculpture above.

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The retail landscape is due for another big shakeup next year though when another super-glamorous mega development opens in the daring location of Thonburi, by the river. Icon Siam will feature two luxury malls, hotels, apartments and apparently a museum. Can it snatch away the crown?

At the other end of the Skytrain there are also other interesting developments going on, marked out by slightly less ambitious scale but superlative design. The Commons is an amphitheatre-like dining complex ( effectively an outdoor and super upscale foodcourt) which is already a hit on Thonglor 17. A similar complex, N72, is about to open around the corner too.

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But perhaps coolest of all is the Naiipa arts complex, a small community mall a few minutes walk down a sidestreet from Phra Khanong skytrain station, in a former urban wasteland quickly budding with new condo developments. The Naiipa mall could be  game changer. Its developers wanted to preserve the trees on their family land so the mall has been designed around them, with stores to be housed in cubes clad in reflective glass which amplifies back the greenery to provide the illusion of a forest. Its cutting edge stuff.

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