Architect Sumet Jumsai was looking for new ideas to propose for a building that represented the advent of information technology in the banking world.
While he was groping in the void without interesting projects his son entered with a game in hand and there he had the stroke of genius.
The ROBOT SKYSCRAPER: symbol of our lifestyle
# The skyscraper symbol of information technology
THAI architect Sumet Jumsai was contacted by the Bank of Asia in the early 1980s.
The bank was looking for a project for its new headquarters in Bangkok, something that would reflect the computerization of the banking sector. For a long time Sumet concentrated on finding a suitable design but without many results, then his son entered the room and the architect had a flash of genius.
So where did the idea of making a robot-shaped building come from? From the son’s toy.
The robot building was completed in 1987 at 191 South Sathorn Road in the Sathorn district of Bangkok and is the giant representation of the typical toy robots of that period.
The squared lines and planes that shrink as they rise to form the robot’s body aren’t the only jaw-dropping details.
In fact, the Robot Building looks like a real robot thanks to the decorations inserted by the architect to make everything look as realistic as possible.
On the roof there are two antennas that act as both communication poles and lightning rods and two large round windows at the top resemble two eyes and make this skyscraper look like a living and even a little sleepy robot.
Completed at a cost of 10 million dollars, the 20-floors building was initially the tallest building in Sathorn’s main commercial district. Although it is now surrounded by much taller buildings, the Robot Building will remain the only one to be shaped like a robot.
# The symbol of a lifestyle
The Robot Building today is the Thai headquarters of UOB, United Overseas Bank, the Singapore banking group that acquired Bank of Asia in 2005.
It may seem strange that it is one of the most important banks in the country to accept such a funny and extravagant project but for Thailand it is not so strange.
Fun is part of the lifestyle, a revered ethos known as sanuk was probably the cause of this project’s success.
# One of the “50 fundamental buildings of the century”
The building was selected by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles as one of the 50 landmark buildings of the century.
This robotic skyscraper is obviously not loved by everyone, but those who decide to leave cynicism and seriousness aside find the idea of having a giant toy robot standing in the middle of a city a brilliant and fun idea.
And isn’t it even more funny that a huge robot contains a group of busy bankers inside?