Can Architecture Compete with Advertising?

There are many advertising billboards in Bangkok.   Driving around in the city, it often seems that there are more billboards than buildings along the streets.

Some say that the dominance of these oversized signs has detrimental effects on architecture and the urban environment.   But there is no doubt that the revenue-generating potential of large-scale advertising signs is an attractive proposition for building owners.   In many instances in Bangkok, advertising billboard structures are directly installed and building facades entirely covered.   The result is that advertising can replace the need for architects to consider building exteriors in other meaningful ways.

Advertising on the building facade was one of the most important criteria for the design of a new car showroom that Architectkidd was recently involved in.  The client’s initial requirement was to design the facade to show oversized images of the cars that they would be selling.  Rather than try to design something that would (hopelessly) compete against the billboard and signage design, Architectkidd decided to develop an alternative approach that can accommodate advertising while preserving the architecture.

We found inspiration in the design of signboards that rotate several images within one advertising space. The idea of these rotating bilboards seems to relate to cars and of movement. But rather than rely on any mechanical device to create a moving image, Architectkidd explored various optical techniques in combination with viewer’s movements as they pass by to achieve a similar effect.

One particular technique involved slicing multiple images and collapsing them into one composite image.  An overlay of opaque vertical stripes can then be passed on top, revealing and concealing parts of the composite image.  We thought this optical animation had potential to be developed into architecture, in the form of a double-layered facade system.

The result is a facade design that seamlessly shifts from architectural form to image-based signage. Although this design option was finally not implemented, we are happy to share this with others, as a suggestion of something that can help to possibly improve the quality of large-scale advertising installations in Thailand (and perhaps architecture as well?).

Project Summary:

Name: Car Showroom – Ram-Intra Ekkamai road
Function: Retail
Scope: Facade, Interior Design
Building area: 200 square meters
Project team: Luke Yeung, Jariyawadee Lekawatana, Phuttipan Aswakool, Tammarat Rodpul, Manassak Senachak
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Project duration: April – June 2010