Text description provided by the architects. Found in 1912, Alliance Française (AF), is the leading institute to promote French art and culture in Thailand. With this role, AF provides an extensive range of functions for art and cultural activities; a large exhibition space, 200+ seat auditorium, French restaurant, media library, classroom, workshop and studio, research center and management offices.
In designing a new cultural center for French, the challenge faced by Stonehenge team is how to create a building that is lively and open enough to provide a multidisciplinary space for vibrant French art and cultural events.
The 6-storey with one basement building accommodates 3 main functions; art & culture, academic and office. They are configured around the vertical atrium that carve the building from ground to skylight above. The atrium is not only allowing the natural light to inner space, but also providing a set of staircases that encourage people to walk through for sustainable development.
As it is the first project being built in ONE BANGKOK, the largest urban development in Thailand that aim to finish its 1st phase in 2021. Facing to the colossal neighbor, we find it necessary to reinforce a dialogue between AF and ONE BANGKOK. Hence, its façade is designed to provide a certain degree of connection and separation. The 725 sq.m. pleated aluminum façade is treated with perforation. Inspired by the shape of France, the perforation is in hexagonal. The opening size is varied following to the requirement of natural light and visual connection for inner program. None of the aluminum panel is identical. The result is the animated façade that communicate to surrounding and yet create its own privacy. The bottom part of the front façade is left transparent revealing the temporary exhibition space and the event stair.
Arriving at the main exhibition space, visitor perceives a gigantic event stair as the main feature. It is designed for multipurpose use. This stair is as much a circulation as a seat and a stage for all kind of events. It aims to promote interaction between people, activities and the building together. Connecting the temporary exhibition space to the library and finally bring people to the auditorium on the 3rd floor.
As a cultural center, auditorium always plays the main role and becomes one of the busiest venues; with multipurpose uses for wide range of events; talk show, art movie, concert or stage performance. To achieve the desire acoustic quality with state-of-art design, the whole volume is enveloped with 9 timber acoustic bands. Each band provides a perforation with the fiber membrane backing. Meticulously calculated, they are bent and curved in particular direction to ensure the pleasurable acoustic quality for all audience.
With the interconnected versatile art and cultural spaces, the role of Alliance Francaise is enhanced with more vigorously engagement between people, community and cultural events.