After all the nationalist debate
surrounding Mahanakhon Tower, it hasn't taken long for more drama to engulf Thai architecture.
Last Friday saw the unveiling of the final design for the 14km river walkway along the Chao Phraya River by a group known as Chao Phraya For All (CPA), led by teams from King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL) and Khon Kaen University.
Already controversial for its short, seven-month study period, the project has now drawn the ire of public commentators who say part of it copies the work of world-renowned architect Norman Foster.
The criticism surrounds CPA's 3D rendering of Wiman Phra Indra (Indra Paradise), a grandiose new riverside landmark that is set to house the Bangkok Museum in the north of the capital.
Mere days after the rendering's unveiling on Sep 9, local architects and Friends of the River (FOR), the main opposition group to the project, brought attention to the similarities between Wiman Phra Indra's spiral spike and criss-crossing lines with those of Crystal Island Tower in Moscow, designed by the UK’s Foster + Partners, who are also responsible for iconic buildings like Tower 2 at the new World Trade Center in New York and London’s 30 St Mary Axe.
Leading the cries of plagiarism is local starchitect Duangrit Bunnag, who has taken to Facebook to voice his concerns.
"The drama is even worse when you realize the B120 million budget that went into paying the team who have designed the riverside project, who basically took a model that you can download for free on the internet after saying they have thought long and hard about the design," Duangrit wrote in a Facebook status that has already fetched nearly 3,000 likes and 1,000 shares.
The status was accompanied by a link to 3dwarehouse.sketchup.com
which contains the model of Moscow's Crystal Island Tower.
After the news spread online, CPA advisor Watchara Jongsuwat opened up to Matichon Online
that he had never seen the Crystal Island Tower design before. He insisted that CPA didn't copy anyone and explained that they got inspiration from Thai pagoda architecture in the Chom Hae style and the scales of the Naga, a mythical serpent-like animal in Buddhism.
Watchara even suggested that people should consider that it might be a case of Westerners copying Thai architecture, instead.
The design for the Crystal Island Tower has been around since 2007, though construction has been postponed due to economic downturn. Set right on the Moscow River, the 450-meter-high project would be one of the largest buildings on earth with a total mixed-used floor area of 2.5 million sq. meters.
In comparison, Wiman Phra Indra will stand at 234 meters high and comprise a museum with nine traditional Thai houses, elephant sculptures, a viewpoint and Naga head sculpture with water spouting from its mouth.
Take a closer look at the two designs below:
Wiman Phra Indra, Bangkok Museum
The Crystal Island Tower, Moscow.