At first glance, the 34-floor edifice at the intersection of Ploenchit and Withayu Roads — which by any measure must be one of the most prime commercial locations in the Thai capital — appears to be just another slick glass-and-steel skyscraper piercing Bangkok’s ever-rising skyline.
Four years of steady construction passed before Park Ventures Ecoplex was quietly unveiled on the five-rai plot in January 2012. What sets the edifice apart from most other denizens of the urban jungle is a comprehensive design dedicated to reduced energy consumption, healthier office working conditions, and more environmentally friendly building materials and construction technology.
Before the project even broke ground, principal personalities representing owners (Univentures/Park Ventures) and the design team (architecture by Palmer& Turner, construction management by Thai Obayashi, and landscaping by P Landscape) met to develop “a new communicative culture” for the Ecoplex project, with the intention of creating what is now hailed as Thailand’s most comprehensive building management system.
Thai Obayashi project manager Prasert Chalermratananon recalled that the process was a fulfilling challenge from the start.
“Park Ventures wanted us to do in-depth research analysis on several innovative green building systems,” says Chalermratananon. “They paid attention to the smallest construction details to ensure the greatest precision of work.”
To start with, 25 percent of the site is given over to green space, encompassing a large garden off the 8thfloor, as well as a larger rooftop garden.
According to Univentures managing director Thanapol Sirithanachai, “The overarching concept covered not only design, architecture, interior decoration, and landscaping, but also every other aspect of development and construction for the Ecoplex.
“We installed carbon dioxide sensors, which automatically activate ventilation fans when the amount of carbon dioxide in an area exceeds certain levels, and natural light balancing sensors that adjust indoor lighting by the level of incoming natural light.”
A significant side objective of this approach was to obtain Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design(LEED) certification. LEED is an internationally recognised green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies intended to improve performance in metrics such as energy savings, water efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.
Worldwide to date, LEED has registered over 7,000buildings. Thailand now boasts more than a dozen. Most are retrofits or rebuilds. Park Ventures was granted LEED Gold certification when it opened in 2012, one of only three completely new office complexes in Bangkok which incorporated LEED-certified eco-designs. In 2013, Park Ventures was upgraded to Platinum, LEED’s highest level of certification.
LEED favours projects that are undertaken in already developed urban areas to cut down on urban encroachment into natural areas outside the city and to take advantage of existing mass transit systems. Park Ventures’ location adjacent to Ploenchit BTS and city bus lines neatly fulfils these criteria.
Offices with exterior windows have glazed, triple-pane glass walls allowing light to penetrate the interior. Low-E glazing helps reduce ingress of sound, light, and heat, reducing air conditioning usage in tandem with a Variable Air Volume (VAV) system, which adjusts temperature in shaded areas. The crystal grey glass, produced by Viracon in the United States, cost over 500 million baht. With its thermal transfer value of 30 watts per square metre, the glass should reduce electricity consumption for air-con 30percent below standard.
Building Automatic System (BAS) monitors and controls energy consumption. Sensors dim electrical lights nearest the sun during the day while motion sensors illuminate meeting rooms only when occupied. The lighting system makes use of energy-efficient LED andT5 technology, reducing power costs by an estimated 15 per cent. The building’s water systems automatically recycle grey water to be used for gardening.
Park Ventures is also equipped with a “smart” elevator system that takes passengers to their destination floor in40 seconds or less.
The gently undulating, curvilinear shape of the building is intended to evoke the phanom wai — the traditional Thai greeting gesture — to engender respect and hospitality. Glass-panel designs atop the high-rise were inspired by the lotus, the Buddhist symbol representing coolness and calm.
Most of the building is dedicated to grade A office space, with a lower zone extending from level 8 to level 16and a high zone from level 17 to 22, for a total of 27,000square metres. The average office space measures between 1,900 and 2,000 square metres, and all feature a spacious ceiling height of 2.9 square metres. Knock out panels in the floors and ceilings allow tenants the option of installing private inter-floor stairs to avoid using the lifts for one-floor hops.
The eighth level of the building consists of the Victor Club, a common area used for reception and office services. To evoke the “club” ambience, the décor includes stacks of old books on a long shelf along one side of the main room, along with a ray of small reproduction 19th-century telescopes. Seating areas are furnished with contemporary chairs upholstered in eye pleasing black herringbone with brown piping. Some of the walls are made of smooth wooden slats “woven” together to resemble enlarged bamboo thatch patterns, adding a stylised native touch.
One large corner of this level is devoted to Victor Link, a state-of-the-art meeting space equipped with the latest audio visual systems, Wi-Fi, LCD projectors and motorised drop screens, video conference facilities, digital signage ,a large circular table with comfortable leather chairs, and full secretarial services. Windows slant outward from the floor to cut glare, similar to the array common to airport control towers. The view over Withayu Rd to the south is considerably enhanced by the abundant trees and foliage along embassy row.
A spacious terrace called Victor Gardens, accessed from Victor Club, offers a pleasant green area planted with trees — each of them labelled with its common and botanical names. Tenants can take a relaxing outdoor walk here, or recline on one of the wooden deck chairs arranged in a long row to one side.
Park Ventures has its own Skywalk linking Ploenchit BTS with the 2nd level. There is also a parking structure with a capacity of 580 cars on levels two through seven.
Aside from the office space, the building boasts the five-star, 242-room Okura Prestige Bangkok, one of the region’s most environmentally-friendly hotels. The hotel occupies 11 floors (level 22 to 33, with guest rooms from level 25 upwards) of the building.
Meanwhile, the first and second floors at Park Ventures are given over to 1,000 square metres of retail space.
The Park Ventures Ecoplex project has helped inspire a business alliance amongst Krungsri Group, Central Embassy, Noble Ploenchit, and Nai Lert Group to develop a new identity, “Ploenchit City,” for the Ploenchit Rd-Wireless Rd neighbourhood. The collaboration intends to promote the area as a new premium business district in the capital.
Because part of Park Ventures’ mission is to educate the public about ecological building technology, the building hosts a tour program that highlights the importance of green building techniques, green project management, eco-design, and how LEED works. Anyone interested in learning more about the building can call 02643 7193 to arrange a tour.