PENTAGRAM ✕ VASLAB ✕ DAVE PERRY
WHILE A WORLD-CLASS DESIGN STUDIO LIKE PENTAGRAM IS BEST KNOWN FOR ITS IMPRESSIVE GRAPHIC DESIGN TRACK RECORD, NOT MANY KNOW THAT IT IS BEHIND MANY INTERESTING WORKS OF SPACE DESIGN.
While a world-class design studio like Pentagram is best known for its impressive graphic design track record, not many know that its Architecture and Interior Design unit, with partners like William Russel as the director, are the mind behind many interesting works of space design. BEAM is the name of their latest project and the new urban nightclub located in the heart of Thonglor, Bangkok’s high-end district, has VaSLab co-developing the design along with the design team from Pentagram. Succeeding the collaboration is what they call the “clubbing experience,” specifically brought to boost the exhilaration of Bangkok’s dance fanatics.
It was the design team’s intention to create unity between the interior space and exterior structure of the architecture with ‘concrete.’ The material was given the leading role of portraying a connection of reciprocal dialogue between the delicate concentration reflected by the exterior of 72 Courtyard and the rawness of BEAM’s interior surfaces left to expose the carefully orchestrated truth to material details of the concrete created by the wooden formwork. One thing we cannot forget to mention is the ‘bipolarity’ manifested in the formation of space. As risky as this may be, considering the possible disrupted cohesion, the differences in functionality between the two spaces are rather obvious, allowing for the designers’ intention to be understood without requiring overly complicated contemplation.
The first series of spaces on the ground floor is occupied by the lounge bar ‘Dalmatian Room.’ A variety of materials are used for this particular space ranging from wood, steel and glass and including the wall of mosaic tiles that has German artist Benedikt Rugar in charge of its creation. The 7×3 meter mosaic wall represents the space’s eccentric window and invites clubbers to relish in the world of imagination, causing the overall atmosphere of the room to be distinctively different from 72 Courtyard’s overall program. The cladding of a series of materials further smooths the coarse texture of the concrete. When complemented by leather furniture, the marble counter bar or the delicate steel structure of the tables with their marble tops and the fairly subtle lighting, Dalmatian Room’s ambience appears to be surprisingly ‘laid back’ considering BEAM’s reputation as a dance-oriented nightclub.
If this first segment of the space is the first pole of BEAM’s bipolarity, the area from the entrance to the second floor of the club would be the second. Aside from the apparent difference between the exposed concrete wall and steel mesh panels at the ceiling, the flow of form is particularly noticeable at the main staircase which prepares visitors for the clubbing space on the upper floor that goes by the name ‘BEAM’ whose upbeat dynamic fills the other end of the program’s bipolar space with pure fun. The completely enclosed space on the second floor can accommodate over 700 people and is designed to offer a super spacious dance floor with a void as high as 6 meters, fabricating a church-like dramatic space within the interior. Concrete beams are omnipresent in creating the flowing and transformative forms of seating and overhead structural plane before making a turn and resting on the ground floor as the mass of the counter bar. The space is rendered in an interesting unison, as the complete enclosure and location to the farthest end of the building makes the space to be highly private where amplified decibels of music are perfectly sheltered and undisturbed by the chaos of Thonglor Road.
The last, but indispensable element of the nightclub design is the lighting and sound systems and the significant roles they play in the experience and design of the space. Dave Parry, the godfather of nightclub audiovisuals who is behind the success of some of the most celebrated clubs like Fabric and Ministry of Sound was chosen to oversee BEAM’s entire multimedia system. The use of ‘beams’ is further rather predictable, whereas implementation of lasers, smoke and projection mapping intensify the mood for the peak days. Asia’s first ‘body kinetic dance floor’ can also be found here, as dancers’ feet can ‘feel’ the vibrations from the beat of the music. The unobstructed space of the second floor offers flexible functionality. These elaborate details you have just read about are essentially the design team’s intention to bring the true clubbing experience to both Thai and international clubbers. It’s a vibe you don’t find very often in Thonglor. In Parry’s very own words, here’s how BEAM is defined, “It’s going to be a proper dance club as opposed to a disco, which I’m kind of seeing most of the places in Thailand are like. And there is a big difference between a nightclub and a disco.”
TEXT: PAPHOP KERDSUP
PHOTO: KETSIREE WONGWAN EXCEPT AS NOTED