The New Gem in Asia
*As featured on Forbes Asia Annual Publication – ASEAN Unique Hotels & Residences.
Few world class cities can boast a river with all the history, pageantry and colour the Chao Phraya River brings to Bangkok. The river of Kings remains the lifeblood of the Thai capital, it’s twisting reaches dividing the City of Angels from its former rival, Thon Buri, yet it is also the quicksilver thread that runs through every Bangkok story, woven into the fabric of each Bangkok life.
The river which once powered commerce and informed all aspects of life in the ‘Venice of the East’ is suddenly back in the spotlight – the focus of vast residential, commercial and community development which will change the face of the mighty waterway forever while reaffirming its majestic reaches as Bangkok’s precincts of utmost prestige.
On the most storied banks of the River of Kings, locales rich in legend where kings reigned and a royal dynasty was born, a new quest looms for the hearts and minds of the Ultra High Net Worth Individuals as some of the world’s greatest luxury brands now vie to put the ultimate stamp of ownership on the river.
One project stands head and shoulders above the rest: Country Group Development’s sprawling vision of world-class quality, timeless elegance, style with substance, and the new luxury of low density.
That vision has been unveiled as Chao Phraya Estate and is Country Group’s largest project to date; valued at 32 billion THB and comprises the new Four Seasons Private Residences Bangkok at Chao Phraya River and Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok at Chao Phraya River, as well as the all-suite Capella Hotel Bangkok, each set to take their place as iconic landmarks on the longest waterfront promenade in Bangkok, covering 35-2-68 Rai (approximately 12.2 acres) and 350 meters of river frontage.
The Private Residences will consist of more than 350 all-corner luxury units in a 73 storey tower offering uniquely wide-angle, never-to-be-comprised vistas along the Chao Phraya and to the Bangkok city skyline. Four Seasons Hotel will include 300 rooms and suites as well as offer world-class amenities, stunning new spaces for events and meetings, and revelatory dining in a low-rise, low-density design linked by a series of shaded squares and lush courtyards. The Capella will take the other tack, designed as a spectacular and unapologetic showcase of the river in all its grandeur.
Ben Taechaubol, Chief Executive Officer of Country Group Development PCL, said “Our contribution to the revival of the Chao Phraya River and skyline of Bangkok reflects our passion and respect for our city’s rich culture and history, and our desire to see it be renowned as one of the greatest urban waterways in the world.”
“We are proud to be collaborating with Four Seasons to develop one of Bangkok’s most iconic hotel and private residences, demonstrating our long-term commitment to the people of Thailand. Through our collaboration with Four Seasons, our aim is for Chao Phraya Estate to redefine the waterfront experience in Bangkok and Asia”.
After undertaking extensive relocation efforts and securing one of Bangkok’s last remaining undeveloped large parcels of riverside land in the CBD, Country Group Development envisaged Chao Phraya Estate to create a meaningful luxury experience that is unmatched in the market.
Mr. Taechaubol said ‘meaningful luxury’ was the key differential that elevated the project above and beyond other activity on the Chao Phraya. ‘meaningful luxury extends beyond the tangible qualities of the real estate,” he said. “It is the ability to create a luxury lifestyle that is relevant and seamless to that of our discerning clientele.”
“We are creating a unique repository of value, conscious of heritage and history yet very much forward-looking, bringing together the cream of global design talent, a once-in-a-lifetime location and looking beyond industry conventions on maximizing yields to deliver a low-density design that enhances privacy and exclusivity for owners and residents.”
Chao Phraya Estate adjoins the ground-breaking Yannawa Riverfront project, in which temples, fisheries, government departments and over 100 private owners have made possible the city’s first true river promenade and community space.
Mr. Taechaubol said it was significant that Bangkok’s first concerted effort to create a community riverfront space had zeroed in on the river’s most scenic and significant reach, stretching from the Country Group site to Saphan Taksin BTS Sky train station.
Two design and master-plan maestro’s Andy Miller and Richard Scott-Wilson of Hamiltons International are also excited about the Yannawa Riverfront project and what it adds to the ‘very special’ nature of the Four Seasons Private Residences Bangkok.
The pair are not easily impressed, having been instrumental in the creation of global icons of architecture including Hong Kong International Airport, Millennium Tower Tokyo and HSBC’s headquarters in Hong Kong. Their enthusiasm about being involved in the Chao Phraya Estate project therefore speaks volumes.
Miller said “There are so many special aspects to the project. There’s the Chao Phraya River, of course; its history, grandeur and sweeping vistas. The size and location of the site on the prime reach of the Chao Phraya, and the ambition of the client, Country Group Development.
“Most commercial developers would build something high density on a plot like this, which might be sold as full river view but you would be seeing plenty of your neighbors and some units would get the less interesting, secondary views to the backs of other buildings. Country Group had a different vision, the long-term view, realizing that the true value of the project would be defined not by the short-term vision and commercial yields but by the quality, exclusivity and uniqueness of what was built on it”.
Scott-Wilson said the challenge as designers was how to bring the vision to life. “We realized early on the design process of Four Seasons Private Residences should be developed in some way around the twin views of the river and city skyline, and to maximize views up and down river, rather than the classic river view or city view only approach. The process involved a large number of study options; different tower configurations, building forms etc., each looking to find ways to maximize the potential of the site, and the final plan diagram was a strong solution but also a simple one. The scheme is configured from three interlocking squares as a floor plate which in effect makes every unit a corner unit, with units benefitting from both river and city orientations. The interlocking geometry also creates separate, discrete cores and lobbies within the plan, creating more private and exclusive shared spaces on each floor level.”
Miller says that most new high rise buildings in big cities will inevitably have their views compromised by the construction or existence of other buildings. “Someone else will always build a bigger building in front of yours. With the Four Seasons Private Residences, and the low density nature of the hotels and the sheer size of the site, it means no one can build in front and no one can build behind, so the views can never be built out.”
Another doyen of design, Gerry Jue, principle of San Francisco-based BAMO and the man behind the interiors of some of the world’s most celebrated Four Seasons hotels, is putting his signature touch on the interiors of the Four Seasons Private Residences Bangkok.
“I have a huge amount of respect for Andy and Richard at Hamiltons, they have designed an incredible collection of buildings,” he said.
“We were able to work closely together to create interiors and space-planning that would complement the wonderful architecture and establish a sense of hotel-inspired living. That’s how the layouts came together, which is the best way to do a project in my opinion”.
“It’s unique to find developers that are so meticulous and selective of such high-quality materials – my goal was to utilize this and capture a timeless elegance.”The collective memories of future travellers to Bangkok and tomorrow’s residents of the Chao Phraya will be very different from those of today. What is certain is that Country Group Development is contributing to the river and the city’s development in a unique, innovative and lasting manner.
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