Shaping Bangkok’s skyline: The mixed-use revolution

April 11, 2024 / By  

As Bangkok property market progresses into the future, its skyline is poised for dramatic changes with the rise of mixed-use developments. Over the past decade, these projects have sprouted up, transforming key junctions across the city. From luxurious complexes to expansive mega projects boasting multiple functionalities, Bangkok’s urban landscape is undergoing a profound evolution. However, to truly understand this transformation, let’s take a closer look into the history of mixed-use projects in the city.

Figure 1: Bangkok’s mixed-use developments by period of completion

In the 1990s, Bangkok experienced a surge in economic growth along with increased demand for speculative markets. Developments in the period were characterised by towering residential complexes and strata-title office units, which typically consisted of large buildings housing multiple functions with an average size of around 100,000 sqm. Yet, this period of prosperity was soon eclipsed by the Asian Financial Crisis, leading to a standstill as the city grappled with economic instability. The aftermath of the crisis witnessed a shift towards single-use developments, mainly focused on one to two uses. Moreover, many projects initiated in the 90s were delayed, leaving Bangkok dotted with unfinished high-rise structures. The subsequent subprime crisis in 2008-2009 further worsened market conditions. This lead to liquidity challenges and escalating debts for developers and reluctance from financial institutions to lend large-scale real estate projects.

The resurgence of mixed-use developments emerged in the 2010s, characterised by a trend towards separating multiple towers within compounds and diversifying functions beyond two uses. These projects, predominantly concentrated in recurring-income sectors, marked an average size surpassing 120,000 sqm on GFA. Notably, developments began gravitating towards leasehold lands in central areas, positioning themselves as luxury destinations. To futureproof these new assets, many developments were built with differentiated concepts. Some commercial developments even started implementing green certifications to align with sustainable practices.

Entering the 2020s marks the dawn of the “Landmark Project Era,” exemplified by ambitious projects like One Bangkok and Dusit Central Park, boasting expansive footprints from over 400,000 to beyond a million sqm on GFA. These endeavours prioritise unique conceptual designs and premium construction quality. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic in the early years of the decade, the demand for upgrades, particularly in the office sector, remains strong. The flight-to-quality trend observed among multinational corporations underscores the allure of these landmark projects, promising an exhilarating decade of transformation. In response, many older retail and hospitality developments underwent major renovations to stay competitive and to complement the arrival of these game-changing projects.

In the midst of this paradigm shift, one cannot help but wonder: How will Bangkok’s skyline evolve in the coming years? As the city navigates towards a future defined by monumental developments, the possibilities are endless, shaping Bangkok into a global metropolis of unparalleled beauty and grandeur.

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