A renovation of an interior space of an old car service center which had been abandoned for more than five years to become a design community and a tile showroom for COTTO, a well-known brand from the biggest building material company in Thailand, named SCG.
In terms of business, the challenging requirement of this project was only to increase the sales volume of COTTO’s tiles.
However, with only 12 million Baht provided for a renovation of interior space of 2,400 square-meter, this project seemed to be impossible. The architects were forced to deal with two impossibilities;
Under the limitations of budget, there were difficulties to cultivate creative ideas in order to enhance commercial products as much as the project required. Therefore, the architects started thinking about other possibilities to boost up the sales volume of COTTO’s tile regarding this limited budget.
Two: Tangible vs Intangible
A normal practice of designing tangible display for commercial products could not increase sales volume that differed from its norm. But designing a new intangible shopping experience to customers is another story. This idea is to differentiate COTTO’s brand image as well as to enhance customer’s memory of the commercial products.
Accordingly, the architects proposed demolishing most parts of the building in order to reduce the space of 2,400 square-meter to one-third of its area. Then, the rest of the budget were spent on an architectural work. By designing and inserting new masses within an old building, with an attempt to use this architecture as an interior decoration at the same time. The old structural beams and columns were remained and beautified a complete blank space from landscape design.
The sprit of architecture… Every architecture has a spirit... Not merely heritage nor historic buildings, but also ordinary buildings.
To increase sales volume, it starts with how to embed a memorable image of the commercial products into customer’s mind.
The architects believed that by creating memorable image into subconsciousness of customers would help creating a long-lasting memory more than a direct image. While allowing the spirit of the “dead” architecture to charm the entire building.
The question was how to revive the sprit of the old, dead architecture in order to enhance the new experience of building’s usage, then to create the a “live" architecture that would inspirit its memorable image as well as the adhered building materials?
The project is located on the massive twelve-lane road which is the main route to access the city of Khon Kaen, north-eastern region of Thailand. At the beginning, the building was only meant to be a tile showroom; however, the architects perceived the potential of the site and suggested to alter the program from just a tile showroom into a community space where everyone could access. To draw attention to VOA Space, even one single ceramic tile were not commonly displayed for purchasing. Besides, the architects did not only design the interior space but also to demolish most of the building, except the structure, to keep the life and spirit of the old building.
The architects suggested the division of space to this tight budget project. By placing two new small masses under the old building and leaving the center space of the old building blank. The small masses act as a cafe and a co-working space, particularly for design expertise likes architects and designers. The unite of new entity surrounded with old columns and beams of the existing structural building creates a sensory ambience of the estate.
The space of the new small masses was obscurely meant to be an entity between architecture, interior architecture and hardscape architecture, which appeared as in an unified architecture built upon space, circulation, steps and stairs.
The steps and stairs were composed to enhance the usage of a free-flow area, with zero cost. While the cladding, made of SCG’s tiles, softens the distinguish strong light and elements of new masses and old one, and delivers a relaxing sensation to the co-working space.
An imperfection may have a room left to fulfill. Yet, it shall be left there; still imperfect, to allow imagination to spark… From imperfection to imagination.
With an attempt to enhance visitors’s subconsciousness towards the spiritual sensation of old and new architectures, the architects blended new circulation paths into every single dimension of free space. From short steps to long steps, from large-straight stairs to spiral stairs, even grandstands and bridges, all of them were built closely to the old structure. Lifting the circulation paths up high, for instance, which makes users who walk along to feel closer to the old beam and concrete ceiling. Along with the creation of a flow of space under the ceiling, continuously reaching the sky, sunlight and drizzle.
The idea of the architects redefined the purpose of this building material showroom - VOA Space. Instead of displaying SCG’s commercial tiles in this showroom as its norm, the architects used the tiles to merge into the entire building. Starting from floor tiling, step and stair tiling, and then continuously to cladding in which abuts to the three-storey height ceiling, the tiles create a new sensation of commercial display to the old context. Besides, the architects took a new approach to the tiling. By exposing tile edges to create new dimension, connecting imperfect details with the old structural building deliberately and harmoniously.
In consequence, the project led us to realize the spiritual dimension of architecture… An unfinished and imperfect entity is an unfeigned truth. Life and death are one thread… just likes new and old architectural context appeared in one…