Concrete Performance beyond the expected

Jenga-style Tower Embodies the Spirit of Bangkok

Looking down from the 78th floor glass platform of the Mahanakhon is overwhelming. 

Nevertheless, visitors can relax knowing that state-of-the-art Sika products were used in the construction process. 

One of these products is called a superplasticizer. These powerful concrete admixtures transform concrete into a modern building material. The product reduces the amount of water needed in concrete by up to 40% while maintaining the strength required for high-rise construction. This improves sustainability and performance by generating thinner and more durable concrete walls, saving resources, and maximizing floor space, without compromising on safety even when faced with high winds, seismic events, or corrosive environmental conditions.

Designed by famous architect Ole Scheeren in 2016, the biggest challenge of building an ultra-modern, 314 meter skyscraper in monsoon territory was to combine comfort and safety with minimum environmental impact. Mahanakhon incorporates a range of sustainable features, including energy and water-saving materials and systems, and lots of green space. For example, the building’s curtain wall system insulates against the city’s chronic heat and muffles the noise of Bangkok.

Mahanakhon Building
Image: View of Mahanakhon in Bangkok, Thailand
City skyline during sun-set
Image: Jenga-style exterior of Mahanakhon

Mahanakhon – the “Great Metropolis”

This 150,000 square meter mixed-use tower is a mammoth concept that embraces Bangkok’s natural beat. 

For a city characterized by intensity and chaos, Mahanakhon is the perfect ambassador. From far away, it looks like a child’s Jenga tower. However, the fragmented design is intentional. Stacked surfaces, terraces, and protrusions create the impression of computer pixels, or the irregularity of mountains. The broken facade connects to the city rather than overpowering it. 

Coming closer, you see that these gaps have purpose. They generate living space: big terraces, balconies, and apartments that merge the tropical outside with the indoors. This is uncommon for high-rises in most cities, but well-suited to the warm climate of Bangkok.

Mahanakhon yields 10,000 square meters of retail space with lush gardens and terraces for restaurants, cafes, and a 24-hour marketplace. Finally, the dazzling Sky Bar on the roof invites you for a drink in the sky.

The activity of Bangkok is connected to the building through the public transportation below, and through its integration with urban street life via Mahanakhon Square, an outdoor plaza that gives a break from the intense clamor of the city.

Combining all these elements makes a whole which is “greater than the sum of its parts” according to Scheeren. This urban mix conveys the energy, intensity, and inclusiveness of Thai society, and celebrates Bangkok’s rise as a true global capital, fitting the Thai meaning of the name Mahanakhon, which translates to “Great Metropolis.”

A City of Untamable Energy

Mahanakhon serves as a prime example of how architecture can express a city’s unique and powerful qualities. It is the tallest building in the world where you can stand on the roof of the building outside – which is why they close the roof during rainfall or heavy wind.

The skywalk experience, while daunting, is one of the things which make Mahanakhon so unforgettable. Just as it breaks limits architecturally, it demands bravery from its tenants. Those who dare to stand on the top can enjoy extraordinary views of one of the most vibrant cities on earth. 

Turbo-charged yet laid-back, Bangkok is a city of many contradictions and untamable energy. With Mahanakhon, Scheeren set out to embody this energy, and Sika products helped him get there – both technically and creatively.

Ultimately, Mahanakhon is not a place for the faint of heart. But then, neither is Bangkok. 

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