Ratchadamnoen Contemporary Art Center

The building of Ratchadamnoen Contemporary Art Center is one of the 15* buildings built along both side of Ratchadamnoen Road during 1937-1948 in the period of Prime Minister Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram. 

The building was abandoned when the office of contemporary art and culture found it in 2010. The aim is to turn the building into a space for contemporary art and culture, to prepare an experimental space for all.  In October 2012, the construction has started and is schedule to be finished by August 2013.

The existing building is a 3-storey column-beam Reinforced Concrete structure with the brick and mortar’s wall. It was divided and finished by the tenant that changed time to time; ; bank, shops, office or even residential.  Added wooden loft, slabs and stairs can be found in several places but mostly were in bad condition.

The renovation for the Art center was done in the modest way as a mark of respects for the existing building.  The extension part was added between 5 old staircases to contain most of the building’s heavy infrastructure such as elevators, toilets, machine rooms and storages while the existing part, contain most of the exhibition public spaces such as library ,hall ,cafe ,etc.   

By exposing the old brick and the concrete structure, the designers took the most modest gesture to make the building speaks its own history and at the same time making the building lighter by removing layers of finishing made by several tenants. 
By that, the old construction method can be seen in various ways such as the use of banana leaves as part of the concrete formwork, or some rare detail of the wooden window. 

Most of the old wall that used to divided the long building were removed. Also part of the concrete slab and old wooden slabs (which were added by the tenants) were removed to reduce the weight of the building and to create vertical connectivity. 

Various types and proportion of exhibition spaces has been prepared and equipped with lighting and air condition. At the same time thanks to vast amount of existing wood windows most of the space can also be used as the workshop with natural ventilation. 
With 5 original staircases and 3 elevators (not included 1 freight elevator) the whole building’s circulation is opened for the users and for the curators to design the exhibition. 

In other words, this building is finished as “unfinished”, to leave the space for users to create ,to think and to question by his/her own words.

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Year: 2012-2013
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Client: Ministry of Culture, Thailand
Program: Museum / Gallery, Renovation
Total floor Area: 5,600m2
Status: Completed
DESIGN TEAM: Pornpas Siricururatana (during her work as cultural officer at Office of Contemporary Art and Culture, Ministry of Culture, Thailand together with Sompoom Tangchupong and Sininart Kotruchin)
PHOTO CREDIT: Ruakwan Sangburarat, Ketsiree Wongwan, Jakarin Tewtao