Bangkok, Thailand, has added a sculptural topper to its skyline with the completion of the MahaNakhon (which means “great metropolis” in Thai), the tallest building in Thailand. The local branch of international studio Büro Ole Scheeren designed the 1,030-foot-tall tower, a glassy spire with a distinctive “dissolving” cutaway that spirals up along the length of the building.

With the completion of a glass-bottomed observation deck at the very top of MahaNakhon on November 26, the 77-story tower is now officially open to the public.

The glass-bottomed Skytray is open to the public and provides 360-degree views of Bangkok.

The glass-bottomed Skytray is open to the public and provides 360-degree views of Bangkok. (Srirath Somsawat)

“The idea behind MahaNakhon was to take the life of the city and bring it up the tower in a dramatic, spiraling movement,” said Ole Scheeren, principal of Büro Ole Scheeren. “Even the very top of the tower is surrendered to the public, so there is not only a public square at the ground, but human activity rises along the pixelated shaft to the top floors of the building which are given back to the public domain. It is a project that is strongly embedded in the city and the public realm, and expressively proclaims itself as an active part of it.”

The distinctive cut that snakes around the building gives it an unfinished appearance from a distance, but reveals planted terraces, balconies, and cantilevering living rooms when viewed in detail. Scheeren has described the gesture as an “erosion” of the typical rectangular form that’s meant to blur the boundaries between the interior spaces and Thailand’s tropical climate.

When viewed close up, the "erosive tear" wrapped around the building is revealed as a series of public setbacks and balconies.

When viewed close up, the “erosive tear” wrapped around the building is revealed as a series of public setbacks and balconies. (Wison Tungthunya)

The 1.6-million-square-foot MahaNakhon features a bit of everything in its programming, including 200 high-end condo units, 150 hotel rooms, cafes, restaurants, and retail space located at the landscaped MahaNakhon Square at the tower’s base. The crown jewel of the glass-clad building is the “Skytray,” a 15-foot-by-57-foot glass observation deck more than 1,000 feet off the ground. Visitors will be able to check out the entirety of Bangkok (and beyond) thanks to the tower’s unobstructed height.

Towers with “pixelated” cutaways have been gaining in popularity in the last few years, and the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) in particular has continued to experiment with the form. MahaNakhon may have beat BIG’s Spiral to the party though, as the Thai tower was originally commissioned in 2008.

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