Mass Customized Architecture

As a stand-alone retail outlet, the new Caffe D’Oro shop was designed to be produced and installed in many locations in Thailand. At the same time, Architectkidd was interested in developing a material solution that would be unique, tactile and recognizable to users and the brand.

We developed our technique by adapting a material used for mass production in Thailand: GRC, or Glass Reinforced Cement. GRC combines cement and glass fiber to form a composite material that is cast at the factory using molds.

Highway sound insulation panels and car parking facades – these are the common uses for GRC in Thailand. Typical products are often attached on the surface to create exterior panels.

But since we were interested in forming three-dimensional space and architecture (exterior + interior space), we had to work closely with the GRC fabricator for our design. In this case, we developed a very close collaboration with GEL to work out how the panels are divided along the curved surface of the new D’Oro.

For the first step of the process, GEL built a full-scale prototype made from gypsum plaster in their factory.

GRC is known to be a durable material, but standard GRC does not offer the types of finishes that we were looking for. For the finishing of the new D’Oro, we worked with Beger to formulate a smooth, glossy and water-resistant exterior coating.

Having been involved in the entire fabrication process, we realized that this technique is both industrialized as well as manual. While it is prefabricated with factory processes, many workers and crafts people were involved in the architectural panels. It is therefore very much a hand-assembled process.

In the end, we think this project is our version of designing a ‘mass customization’ architecture.

Here are more photos of the construction process below.