Bangkok’s Decorative Highrises Serve a Purpose
The next time you venture around Bangkok, take a look at the tops of the city’s highrises. You’ll notice a whimsical array of all sorts of design flourishes, artistic structures, and some seemingly pointless architectural details.
For years, I simply assumed it was the architect flexing their muscles and providing the owners with a unique and eye-catching structure that would stand out from all the other unique and eye-catching structures. The more I thought about it, the less sense it made to spend money on creating some of the designs seen on Bangkok’s buildings, and it turned out there was an excellent reason why the skyline appears as it does today.
Reducing a Building’s Movement
When you spot a tall highrise with a strange architectural shape on top of it, that peculiar architectural shape may well help prevent vertigo in the building’s tenants and residents.
Architects spend a lot of time and effort designing buildings that withstand the forces of nature. High winds, storms, and earthquakes are natural forces that today’s buildings are built to withstand. While every tall building moves to some degree, as they’re designed to bend rather than break, architects focus on keeping the movement to a minimum. One of the ways they withstand the wind is by deflecting it. Some of the twists and curves you see today on modern buildings are designed to deflect the wind and keep the building stable.
You may notice the wind picks up when you’re walking on the street close to an oddly-shaped building. That’s the wind reacting to the building’s shape.
The less a building flexes in the wind, the more comfortable it is for the inhabitants, and the less they’ll experience feelings of vertigo. After all, a building that gets a reputation for moving a lot on windy days is a building that will soon be empty of tenants.