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Supermachine Studio in Bangkok, Thailand, is a group of four multitasking architects that team member Pitupong “ Jack” Chaowakul describes as “small office – big projects.” “We work like guerrilla designers, everyone does everything, constantly shifting,” he told TCH.
Supermachine’s latest achievement is the interior design of two floors of one of Bangkok University’s new four-storey buildings that form the new, spectacular Landmark complex, designed by Bangkok-based 49 Group.
Supermachine’s work in the Bangkok University Creative Centre (BUCC) - about 600 square meters in total – includes a workshop, library, exhibition space, viewing room and office.
According to Chaowakul, BUCC was set up as part of the government’s goal to transform the country’s economy from agricultural and industrial into the creative economy. To encourage creativity, communication and experimentation, the BUCC facility needed to be open, playful, expressive and flexible.
One of Supermachine’s solutions was the “Lo-Fi pixel wall” at the entrance. They covered a 180 square-meter wall surface with 10,000 custom-made rotating four-sided plastic pieces. Each piece has a pink, blue, green and yellow side. Students can rotate each unite and create colour patterns, write messages or just experiment with the tactile wall.
In the student workshop, Supermachine enclosed the internet centre in a space-ship like green pod that students can move around in the open space.
Construction at BUCC is coming to a close and the facility will open shortly for students. Supermachine is currently working on the interiors for the university's student lounge facility. - Tuija Seipell
We love the way Bangkok University has been branding itself as a Creative University during the past few years. One method they have chosen to do this is to re-imagine and re-allocate the space so that the students will want to spend time on the campus, not just studying but enjoying themselves.
As before the university retained Bangkok’s Supermachine Studio, led by Pitupong (Jack) Chaowakul, to create the Student Lounge (formerly allocated for teachers) at the Rangsit Campus, located north of Bangkok.
The new configuration for the lounge was completed in March and includes about 1,000 square meters (about 10,764 square feet) combined on the ground floor and mezzanine.
The ground floor area is designed as a flexible hang-out space that can be reconfigured for studying alone or in groups, resting, meetings and so on, using the porous, mobile “ribs” as walls.
The mezzanine level is a fun and games zone. It includes a pink polka-dotted Karaoke hut, teetering off the “cliff” and about to fall off onto the reading cave below. Students sitting on the massive modular sofa in the reading cave can clearly see their fellow students performing in the Karaoke hut.
The game zone includes a huge pool table with mobile holes, a giant dart board where no-one can miss the bulls-eye, a music rehearsal room that is like a little house with one wall hinging open, plus a gossip corner and a Kungfu zone.
Many of the components in the space are meant for the students to change and reconfigure, including the 400- bottle chandelier and the gigantic panda that could be painted in the future to resemble other characters, animals or creatures.
Inside the 6,5-meter high panda is the spiral staircase connecting the ground floor and mezzanine. Students enter the staircase from the backside and exit from the back of the head. The mouth of the panda is a window.
The columns dotting the ground floor are currently white, but the students are expected to paint or decorate them as well. In addition to Pitupong Chaowakul, the design team included Suchart Ouypornchaisakul, Nuntawat Tassanasangsoon, Wattikon Kosolkit, Santi Sarasuphab and Supanna Chanpensri.
- Tuija Seipell
We return to the creative work of Supermachine Studio, the multidisciplinary design firm that architect Pitupong (Jack) Chaowakul established in 2009 in Bangkok.
Last year, we covered Supermachine's design of Bangkok University Creative Center.
This time, our attention was piqued immediately by the first images we saw of Supermachine's ideas for the rebirth of Saatchi & Saatchi Thailand's office.
Supermachine was the team of choice for Saatchi & Saatchi's regional creative director, Joel Clement, because he was looking for playful and unexpected design solutions. Clement wanted a space "that inspires, is genuinely fun to come to everyday, and that didn't take itself too seriously."
The agency's move to the Sindhorn Tower, on Wireless Road in Bangkok, was part of parent firm Publicis's goal to gather its affiliated companies in one building for shared resources.
The somewhat dated building, tight space (400 m2, about 4305 ft²) and the tight budget posed challenges that Chaowakul and team solved with bold ideas that leave much of the space open but accented by strong visual elements. This openness was also part of Clement's brief to Supermachine, as the previously scattered teams had to learn to work together and become one functioning family.
We love Supermachine's happy nods to motion and mobility. The reception desk is on wheels and resembles a big white bus. Bicycles work as the legs of a large glass-top conference table that is fully mobile. The meeting cabins that feel like train compartments. There is also the reoccurring visual theme in the shape of a racetrack, hockey rink or stadium.
A large outer wall is covered with small, white "wood pixels" that are made of wood recycled from the agency's previous office. With this wall, Supermachine achieved not just practical goals -- to cover the ugly red marble wall and to save costs by recycling materials from the existing office -- they also created a visual link to the organization's past.
Perhaps in a nod to even further into humanity's past, there is the "monster wall." Its main feature is a 20 meter-long (65 feet), lizard whose skin is constantly redecorated with current work and inspirational items. Its jaws work as a bookshelf. The monster has already become the agency's new mascot and will appear on a T-shirt soon.
In addition to Pitupong (Jack) Chaowakul, the Supermachine project team included Suchart Ouypornchaisakul, Peechaya Mekasuvanroj, Santi Sarasuphab, Kasidis Puaktes, Jetsada Phongwasin and Korthong Thongtham Na Ayutthaya. - Tuija Seipell