Ben Taechaubol spent his formative years doing what most Sydneysiders do — making use of the water that surrounds the city. And it was the design of that Australian metropolis that helped turn Taechaubol’s focus to the Chao Praya once he returned to live and work full time in Bangkok, the city of his birth.
As CEO of Thailand’s Country Group Development PCL, Taechaubol is one of the driving forces behind the sprawling Four Seasons Private Residences Bangkok at Chao Phraya River. The development recently started taking shape alongside the River of Kings as property development in the kingdom — and, it is hoped, property seekers from across the globe — start to turn their attention back to where life in the city began.
The residences form part of a US$1.2 billion, 14.2-acre property that will include luxury Four Seasons and Capella hotels, and they are being billboarded as the Four Seasons’ largest residences. Set framing 350-metres of waterfront, the 73-story residential tower is the centre point of a development set to a low-density plan that makes use of the massive space it has been allocated.
Around 355 units will be made available by the time doors open in 2018, at what the developer estimates will be an average price of THB300,000 per square metre (HK$6,700 per square foot) with “modern contemporary design along with a sense of timeless elegance [featuring] a mix of floor plans, starting from 115 square metres (approximately 1,235 square feet) for a two bedroom residence and 1,050 square metres (11,300 square feet) for a penthouse residence.”
The residences come with full access to restaurants and bars situated along the river banks as part of the hotel development, plus their own river lounge, an amenities deck with infinity pool and fitness centre on level three and rooftop Four Seasons Club which will come with another infinity pool plus entertainment facilities such as wine and cigar rooms, and a private screening room.
On the Waterfront
It’s been 25 years since the Shangri-La was opened — the last high-end development on the Bangkok side of the Chao Phraya — but now development in the city seems to have almost come full circle. When formally established as the Thai capital in the 18th century, Bangkok started to spread its way outwards from the nearby Grand Palace. The Charoen Krung Road, which leads from there and along which the project is being built, was the first paved road in the country.
“It is a very old part of town that is being given a new lease of life,” says Taechaubol. “The vision is now turning to luxury waterfront living and what that type of life can offer people. Thai people come to the river for every significant ceremony but being able to live by the river is something that is just now being rediscovered. I spent many years in Sydney and one of the great things about that city is how it is designed to make use of the harbour, to draw people to it. That’s what we are trying to do once again in Bangkok.”
The Thai government recently announced plans for a nearby riverside promenade park as the focus turns to the possibilities that life by the Chao Phraya can promise, but it’s not only the Bangkok-side banks that are being eyed for development. Across the river in the Thonburi district, the US$1.5 billion IconSiam project is also beginning to take shape over close to 20 acres, which includes almost 600 metres of river frontage. Reports suggested the initial offering of 379 units lasted only a few weeks last July — at an average price of THB300,000 per square metre. A second run of 146 will hit the market later in the year.
Developer Siam has said increased interest in luxury riverside has fuelled early sales, as has a Bangkok property market that seems to be defying initial fears it would take years for it to recover from recent political instability in the kingdom. Similarly, the Four Seasons residences are being designed to make full use of their location with an inventive “interlocking squares” template, meaning every unit is in effect a corner unit, offering full river views and privacy.
Interiors have been handled by design firm BAMO and incorporate features from Dornbracht and bulthaup set against marble and wood with the emphasis on space and making use of all available light. To that end the units have massive windows; principle masterplan and design has been handled by Hamiltons International and principal partner Andrew Miller says the design was inspired by the flow of the river and the need to capture it from every angle.
“Most high rise buildings are in big crowded cities and the view aspect is cut down by other buildings. Someone else will always build a bigger building in front of yours,” says Miller. “But here, with the tower and the two hotels, it means no one can build in front and no one can build behind, so the views can never be built out. That’s what drove us to come up with that configuration.
“It’s three squares interlinked, and it takes in all the river views. You get a 360 set of views up the river and across to the city, and that is the driving force behind the building.”