Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Honda Big Wing in Ladprao, Thailand by VaSLab Architecture
November 18th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: VaSLab Architecture
This big-bike center is a competition winning project awarded to Vaslab Architecture in September 2007. Construction starts in March 2008 and completes in 2009. The client, A.P. Honda Co., Ltd., aims this project to be the first big-bike center in Asia Pacific. It consists of showroom, cafÃ©, exhibition hall, offices, canteen, lounge, service center, workshop, warehouse, and riding track. The client targets the project to reinforce the manufacturer’s brand and expects it to be the new destination for a community nearby. Furthermore, it should inspire big-bike motorcycle riding as another adventure activity and friendship experience for possible users. By all requirements, the client asks that the building should represent the brand’s corporate identity and it should reflect Honda’s brand uniqueness, good performance, exciting ride and masculinity.
Vaslab Architecture’s proposal design had the client’s attention by its metaphorical design that articulates Honda’s brand marketing mind of “attitude of winning”. The rise of Honda’s most impressive moment was in 1996 when “Super Blackbird”, Honda CBR1100XX, was launched with the best overall performance. It bears the world’s fastest production motorcycle which achieved a verifiable 177 mph (285 km/h) with integrated technology of airplane’s engine. The blackbird name is a nod to the Lockheed SR-71 aircraft, once the world’s fastest airplane. This successive moment and never-stop development of the brand becomes such an inspiration for the creation of Honda Big Wing.
The site is located at Praditmanutham Road, Ladprao, Bangkok, Thailand. This new Bangkok vessel has brought in many low-rise commercial projects as magnets for recreation and leisure in the neighborhood. Its surrounded fast traffic speed became the force fluctuated in and out the site to create zoning formation from entrance to internal roadway, public space, service space and open space. The two overtaking sculptural concrete forms, inspired from motorcycle’s “hugging the curve” transition; the winning moment of racing motorcycles in racing track. The two boomerangs engaged one another in plans and sections. The first one vectors its circulation from main entry through cafÃ© at ground level, then elevates to showroom, retails, education zone, and descends to warehouse. The other directs its path from mezzanine lounge/ conference, then descends via offices and canteen at first level, service center and workshop at ground level.
Whereas the triangle site’s open space hugged by these boomerangs becomes riding test track, with loop circulation for motorcycles from test track access to front internal road, moves underneath showroom into service area and back to test ride again. Except for custom-made giant lift, located at two-boomerang’ s bending point, that takes motorcycles up and down vertically between first floor showroom and ground floor service center & workshop. The use of cast-in-place concrete as the architecture’s main element represents its monolithic surfaces. Its masculine finishes flows outside-in as seen from continuous surface of exterior and interior’s wall and ceiling.
The fluid interior circulation is designed to follow the same dynamic characteristic of its outer shell. One of Honda’s campaigns, “Honda Think Earth”, becomes another aspect of this building’s design criteria. First, the use of concrete as eco-friendly and sustainable material is applied throughout the project. Bangkok is known for its hot and humid climate, bare concrete texture becomes a good selection compared to typical paint-on-concrete texture which needs to be repainted every three years, whereas bare concrete texture with environmental-friendly clear silicone-base coating can endure the weather up to ten years.
Second, the first level showroom is elevated not only for better vista but for preventing ground level’s direct humidity. This design aspect also helps the building’s energy-savings on air-conditioning system. Third, the solar cell installed at outdoor foyer near the showroom’s entrance can produce electricity for most of the building’s exterior lightings. Honda Big Wing might be just another building with complete function requirements from its owner. Nevertheless this architecture proves that it is not just a building but a structure composed with poetic space, form, and art. Not only the design is functional, but the meaning of its corporate identity is to be remembered.
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