Bedded in Bangkok

Bed Supperclub, Bangkok, Thailand

Orbit Design Studio

In Bangkok, as in other parts of the world, restaurants and nightclubs open and close with alarming regularity in a tireless attempt to captivate a fickle public. This reality necessitated a two-fold objective for Bed Supperclub: the project had to be sufficiently unique to arouse and maintain interest, and it had to be cost-effective to ensure a quick return on the initial investment.

Orbit Design Studio’s Project Team Leader Scott Edwards is an architectural graduate of the University of British Columbia who worked for Busby + Associates Architects in Vancouver before decamping for the tropical climes of Southeast Asia. The client engaged Orbit’s team in several discussions about the nature of the project, and worked closely with them to develop a solid concept that was carried through in all aspects of the project. The concept for Bed strongly references Amsterdam’s successful and trendy Supperclub, a high- concept restaurant/lounge that hosts art exhibits and fashion shows, always against the background rhythm of an ever-present DJ. The emergence of projects such as Bed illustrates Bangkok’s growing optimism and desire to assert itself as a modern, major international centre following the 1997 economic crisis in Asia. In this instance, this motivation fuelled the creation of an exclusive cutting-edge environment for Bangkok residents and tourists capable of competing with similar venues in entertainment capitals across the world. It was decided to pursue a theme that was specifically modern and international, referencing previous interpretations of “optimistic futurism.”

The requirement for distinctive and recognizable architecture combined with a need for a modular construction system which was easy to assemble and disassemble generated the cylindrical tunnel form, hinting at the potentially ephemeral nature of the project and of the entertainment industry. The tube reads as an alien object in the landscape and is sufficiently unusual in form to stir curiosity, yet is simple enough to build affordably. Early sketches of a floating tube were refined and modified using 3D computer models and, with the assistance of structural engineers, a system of repeated steel ribs and concrete plank flooring was developed. The elevation of the building off the ground plane on rather attenuated structural supports makes Bed seem detached from the site, further enhanced by the thin concrete shallow stair ramping up to the entry. Remarkably, Bed’s resolution as a completely built form shows faithful adherence to the project’s initial digital conception.

The structure’s resemblance to a hovering UFO pod enhances the project’s futuristic feel, and the hard industrial character of the steel exterior contrasts with the detailed luxury of the interior. The tube’s interior is divided roughly in half to house the restaurant and lounge on either side, permitting each to operate independently, thereby increasing revenue potential. Entry into Bed permits immediate access to either space. While the lounge conveys a darker and more intimate environment, the abundance of high-gloss white finishes on the interior of the restaurant gives the project a highly stylized and distinctly futuristic A Clockwork Orange ambiance. Long, continuous upholstered white beds run along either side of the restaurant, inviting guests to settle in for an elaborate meal and a long night’s entertainment. Softly padded white walls complement the bed, subtly reflecting the coloured lighting which is programmed to change over the course of the evening. The kitchen is centrally positioned to become a focal point of energetic culinary performance, enhancing the experience of being entertained, while other functions of the program are tucked away to impede minimally on the integrity of the tube structure and the seductive ambiance of Bed. LJ