Bangkok’s latest luxury landmark

Thanawan Chaiwatana shares what it’s like to create a real estate masterpiece at the heart of the Thai capital

Magnolias Waterfront Residences is set to redefine the landscape of Bangkok upon completion in three years. The groundbreaking luxury condominium development—collectively the largest private real estate investment in the Kingdom with a budget of USD1.54 billion to date—broke ground in late 2014 as part of the 20-acre IconSiam, an ultra-prestigious project that comprises two high-end retail complexes, seven new attractions dubbed the ‘Seven Wonders at IconSiam’ and another luxury residential tower.

Named after one of its parent companies, Magnolia Quality

Development Corporation, this iconic residential building features 379 units occupying 70 storeys and is located along Charoen Nakhon Road, one of the most sought-after riverfront locations in the city.

Property Report recently sat down with Thanawan Chaiwatana, managing director of The IconSiam Residences Corporation Limited, owner and developer of the project, to discuss how Bangkok’s latest world-class mega-development came to be.

What is your organisation’s vision for this project?

We would like to create something so special that’s going to be another centre of the city. It’s going to turn Bangkok into a very competitive destination internationally. It’s going to turn the river (Chao Phraya) into something very special for both local and international people who have been travelling to Bangkok. That’s our vision.

This project is inspired by some of the world-class residential towers in New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo. Could you tell us about the design of this project?

My boss, who has travelled a lot, has seen a number of beautiful properties in the world’s major cities and he noticed that most of them are located next to a park, or a river, or the ocean. In Bangkok, we have the Chao Phraya River as a major life source. But as we look around the river, we don’t really see a magnificent property. So when we envisaged project, not only residential components, but overall the IconSiam project, we would like everybody to experience the new face of Bangkok. The river here is different from the other elsewhere, and the environment is special.

In Singapore, for example, the most popular towers are around the Marina Bay, so when we’re doing our design, one of the points that we made to the designers is that you’ll know when someone takes a picture of, for example, Marina Bay Sands, they know it is in Singapore. We believe that after our project is completed, and somebody looks at a photo they’ll immediately recognise it as being an iconic property of Bangkok.

So it will become Thailand’s new landmark?

Yes! We want something elegant—a nice design that reflects the river and the culture, not necessarily a contemporary design. For us locals it may not look so different, but our consultants believe this will have the sensibility of a temple, of the old world, of an old palace… all those things in what we call a modern interpretation of traditional Thai architecture. If you take a look closely at the design of the façade, the corner changes with the height of the building. If you’re down there by the river and you look up, you’ll see the way the curves intelligently reflect the river.

Does this project utilise green and sustainable building technologies?

Down by the river_Property Report_3

Sustainability is one of the key requirements of the property. I’m not saying we need to add a lot of cost or put advanced equipment, in fact some of the techniques used are very simple ideas. If you take a look at the building’s orientation, it is looking to the east, whilst we put a solid wall on the west side, therefore reducing the heat and energy that’s going into the building.

The second key design element [that is also present in the balcony of each unit>, in terms of energy reduction, is a system that cuts a lot of heat that gets inside the room, whilst you get a full window height’s view. We want to maximise the view and minimise the heat. This kind of feature allows us to achieve what we require. These are very simple ideas that we have, but they are the result of an extensive analysis of the environment.

Is Magnolias Waterfront Residences open to foreign buyers and are you considering an international launch?

Under the law, we can have up to 49 percent foreign ownership of this building on a freehold basis. We have thought about launching our project overseas, but we think Bangkok still has a lot of potential. I would say that there’s always a demand for high quality, high-end and luxury condominiums here in Bangkok. However, it depends on the product that you make and if it can satisfy the customer’s requirements. And it doesn’t mean that you just need to pay for the most expensive unit. Basically it’s everything ­– from the composition of the whole living environment to the lifestyle – that can make it a luxury.