MegaBangna Foodwalk 泰国特色商业区体验步道
Mega FoodWalk is the collaborative design of an enjoyable landscape atrium, relaxing amphitheater, and experiential boardwalk. Within Mega Bangna shopping complex located in the suburbs of southern Bangkok, this extended semi-outdoor food & beverage expansion is designed to create a comfortable microclimate and immersive experience by innovatively incorporating multiple active & passive cooling strategies harmoniously within interactive and tectonic landscape features. The expansion zone represents a marrying of different disciplines to create a unique commercial experience that engages at nearly every corner and path. A unique experience that was created through a truly collective design effort of different disciplines and shared vision with the consultants and the client.
In Bangkok’s hot-humid climate, with temperatures reaching 88-95°F (31-35°C) year round and people seeking shade to stay away from the sweltering sunlight, achieving the optimal human comfort zone microclimate in outdoor spaces is difficult and challenging to design comfortable outdoor spaces that would attract people more inclined to seek air-conditioned indoor spaces. The architecture design & layout approaches this issue by establishing a 3-storey building around a semi-outdoor courtyard, filtering direct sunlight with an expansive skylight roof cover, while deliberately creating openings to promote passive cooling from prevailing winds. The courtyard serves as a focal point and main landscape space located at the heart of the helical-circulating building. The open space is comprised of a split-floor between the ground level and level one above by a 5.5 meter difference in elevation - a challenging issue of providing optimal circulation for the landscape design.
With collaborative efforts of a multidisciplinary team, the landscape architects envisioned the landscape’s roles in this commercial context as an infrastructure for cultural appreciation, comfortable microclimate, and fertile environment for the softscape to flourish. The intention of the design for the landscape centerpiece of the helical-circulating, universal atrium is to create an immersive, experiential pathway with free-flowing linkages that brings visitors to their destinations conveniently through a captivating atmosphere. In order to create a comfortable and attractive landscape space for the visitors, the landscape architect’s goal is to consolidate innovative design solutions that disguisedly blend with the landscape features.
Cultural Landscape Appreciation
User-based landscape design creates a new way to experience both landscape and shops that are located at different levels. The lower level is dropped to create a sunken plaza space for numerous events year-round. Amphitheater seating with genuine wood finish provides cozy spectator seating throughout the day and night, but more importantly serves as generous crowd access to the lower level plaza from the higher main entrance level of the mall. The pathways are friendly to all users with gentle slopes that are handicap accessible. The experiential boardwalk that floats above the water features and traverses through the forest green, is intersected by crossing granite stone pathways and giant slate slabs stacked to display the contrast in form and color of refined and unrefined material. The landscape design is a very interactive and experiential space that encourages visitors to be in contact with its material design. A major highlight of interactive design can be seen with the water levers made of stainless steel. The handles of the levers were deliberately designed for users to feel the cool rush of water carried through the thermal conductive pipes.
Achieving Comfortable Microclimate
The microclimate within Mega FoodWalk is controlled by the integration of landscape design and innovative engineering solutions resulting in a waterscape and softscape that became a successful urban catalyst, where adults can enjoy the atmosphere while children line up for the interactive water play. The water features are incorporated with a solar-powered chiller system. The cool water flows along various features in the landscape, as the changing physical form of meandering flows, ripples, and cascades of water delivers an array of water textures and an evaporative cooling effect at each bend. In addition, concealed jet fans create a breezy airflow which distributes cool moisture from the water features’ surface. As a result, the microclimate is adjusted to an ideal human comfort zone while also providing added moisture for plants to flourish.
Revitalizing landscape element
Prior to the renovation, this dry fountain plaza used to be a fountain pond at the edge of a circular plaza. It functioned as a backdrop and buffering elements between the plaza and the parking space. Because its positioned at the edge of the space with the fountains merely as aesthetic element, the management eventually overlooked its maintenance, and it became deteriorated. Algaes took over the pond and it became unwanted.
Upon the planning and designing of the expansion of FoodWalk, this pond sits right in the middle of the connecting path between the old and this up-coming development. The pond suddenly have the potential to become a significant inviting element that could draw people to this new expansion.
Our team decided that the pond has to function as an inclusive and dynamic landmark that would bring forth visual attractions and vibrant activities. We decided to turned it into an allutring dry fountain plaza with universal access so that everyone can enjoy it. Beneath the fountain, however, laid a huge water tank that supply water to the mall. Thus, the design touched the existing structure lightly and consciously while being able to achieve its goal in serving as an urban catalyst for inclusive and dynamic activities.
Landscape Visual Experience Quality
This drop-off was a renovated of a simple tall grass landsacpe that created visual leakage to the unpleasant internal road and parking lots. This was seen initially as a good idea to enhance the the forground of the large entrance mall. However, it overlooked the experiential quality of the space from the main entrance. With ten thousand vehicles passing these roads daily. It soon became a huge distraction to the space within.
The new renovation of this green island still serves as a central structure for the main drop off of Megabangna Shopping Center. But its main function is a visual blockage between the main entrance and the large parking space. The contour of the berm is just high enough to block the view of any automobile outside the lay-by lane while offering view toward the sky.
The rib structures may seem dominant in the photograph to the left, but from the other side, these concrete ribs almost disappear. This quality was designed deliberately to create visual distinction and experience of arriving and departing. Visitors driving into the drop-off are greeted with refreshing sight of greenery, while when leaving they would face with order of concrete ribs.
An integrated cooling system provides additional benefits to the space by controlling the humidity and temperature at an ideal temperature for growth of a softscape scenery. The designed ‘forest’ uses a softscape palette of plants indigenous to a sub-tropical and tropical climate, including various textured ferns, moss and other species, to create complex multi-level softscape that results in a unique commercial space that blends the surrounding restaurants with natural foliage. Shooting up between these lower and middle layer flora, a dozen of Homalium tomentosum (Vent.) Benth. shoot up to the highest floor to visually connect the atrium together. Amidst the lush greenery, a fog system is integrated to maintain moisture levels as well as creating an immersive landscape atmosphere in the form of fine mist. According to the species selected, the plant palette is a mix of sun-shade tolerant species that will thrive under the semi-transparent roofing system to find balance between vegetative growth and comfortable space.
Re-thinking landscape spaces within a shopping mall
To what extend can landscape play in the context of commercial spaces? How can we, as an urban landscape designer, incorporate natural elements into our work? With the professional help of horticulturists and mechanical engineers, we deployed rich vegetative species as elements to create comfortable microclimate as well as cultural appreciation. Although the setting does not allow for complete natural sustainibility, these elements become showcases for alternatives that’s valuable far beyond the conventional air-conditioned big-boxes architectures. The above photographs show a serie of closeups illustrating delicate natural textures within the landscape looks to create an almost surreal natural ‘forest’ environment. As a result, these landscape artifacts became the forces that drove the visualization and realization of the following project, Mega Park.