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Published: Friday, May 16, 2008

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Urban Pixels: Re-packaging Urban Row Houses

"The client asked for a design proposal of an addition to the existing facade to improve the quality of the surroundings." says Studio ELEVATION on Urban Pixels: Re-packaging Urban Row Houses.

By: Studio ELEVATION

Architecture-Page | Urban Pixels: Re-packaging Urban Row Houses by Studio ELEVATION
Dry concrete roofs are renovated into countless miniature gardens.

Words from the architect

As the Bangkok Transit System were erected, many row-houses suffocated the confrontation, as the passengers up the rail suffered the sight of the messy facades as they have never before on the ground level. Some units were permanently deserted or the inhabitants were forced to seal their windows with abandoned signs and massive billboards, permanently shutting off their exterior life, turning inward to air-conditioned cells.

The client asked for a design proposal of an addition to the existing facade to improve the quality of the surrounding. The old structures are avoided being demolished. Finishing works and minimum removal of non-structural walls on existing buildings are tolerable.

Architecture-Page | Urban Pixels: Re-packaging Urban Row Houses by Studio ELEVATION
Pedestrian view from the street.

The key concept of the project is "People = Pixels". Together they can create a vivid picture of their community. This is a break-through concept of interactive design, custom-made for the people that they can foresee and decide how the facade will change. We came up with a very light, temporal but sustainable design that not only add new meanings to the city facade but also 'green' the housing units, integrating plantation into each unit, greening the once 'hot, abandoned concrete roofs', adding water collection system for future uses, and reanimate the unused overhanging slabs into lively balconies.

Architecture-Page | Urban Pixels: Re-packaging Urban Row Houses by Studio ELEVATION
View from across the street, overlooking the BTS gigantic platform.

Materials: Unadorned, reused wooden crates found in the Port of Bangkok nearby were used as the main material. They are very sustainable, cost effective, enduring, replaceable, contextually and logistically feasible. The used wooden crates are treated chemically without heavy industrial process. Also, we felt that the material gives a sense of temporary shelter, not arrogant concrete manifesto. It looks nomadic, and we like it.

Architecture-Page | Urban Pixels: Re-packaging Urban Row Houses by Studio ELEVATION
The graphic messages conveyed like street art, by low-res pixel-like crates.

It is more like a new skin-a new package for the old product. This new facade skin restores the unused overhanging slabs which formerly trapped waste and rainwater into balconies, and we hammered the walls to the balconies down so that there be no barrier to the outside. The inhabitants are to later decide and adjust their own 'face', whilst making sure it goes with the rest of the neighbors. This way we unite the people, making them 'talk' to each other more, and not separately live and surrender to the rush of today's desperate world.

Architecture-Page | Urban Pixels: Re-packaging Urban Row Houses by Studio ELEVATION
Street elevation as first design. It will change overtime.

Credits

  • Text: Joe Chatrasingha
  • Photographs: Joe Chatrasingha and Studio ELEVATION

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