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MahaNakhon Tower, Thailand

MahaNakhon Tower is the latest skyscraper to be added to Bangkok’s impressive skyline, and the tallest one at that

With a striking design resembling pixels, the MahaNakhon Tower is an iconic symbol, instantly recognisable in Bangkok’s skyline. At 314 m tall, construction of the skyscraper was completed in late 2016, with the building opening shortly thereafter.

To ensure its success, the tower’s developer, PACE Development Corporation, enlisted the help of global engineering firm, Aurecon, to undertake peer review work on the building’s design and construction. As a trusted and leading consultant in designing supertall buildings, Aurecon helped PACE achieve a higher level of confidence that the design will meet the client’s high standards for building performance and statutory requirements on safety and speed of construction. Given the building’s unique pixelated design, the designs were also run through a value engineering review to ensure optimum structural efficiency.

The work involved a comprehensive review of MahaNakhon’s engineering details, covering structural and mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) designs as well as the construction method statement. The MEP system has a long-term impact on operating and maintenance costs, and is critical to any building’s tenants.

Wind and seismic loading

Supertall structures are complex so their design will always necessitate higher levels of engineering consultation. One of the first areas Aurecon turned its attention to was the soil-structure interaction, given Bangkok’s soft soil conditions. Bringing its experience and knowledge from work on similar supertall buildings, Aurecon worked with both the developer and main contractor, Bouygues-Thai, to investigate the effect of Bangkok’s soft soil on the performance of the main tower, especially under wind and seismic actions. The aim was to find the best solution to enhance building performance – with a focus on understanding lateral vibration levels and ensuring tenant comfort levels complied with international standards and guidelines.

The Aurecon team in Thailand spent extensive time understanding the predicted wind loadings on the building, providing advice based on detailed analyses on the anticipated wind loadings.

In particular, close attention was paid to the building’s distinct design which features a pixelated exterior shape and sharp corner edges, which meant higher wind forces would be induced than with a smoother, curved structure. These stronger forces not only impact the cost of materials required for the building’s construction but, if not properly addressed, they can also affect tenant comfort should lateral sway in the building become too strong. Adding to the complexity of the wind load calculations is the asymmetrical design of the MahaNakhon, which meant lateral sway may also be caused by gravitational forces. To ensure this was mitigated, Aurecon ran a detailed check on the building’s vertical structure members.

In total, the peer review for MahaNakhon took several months. During this time Aurecon engineers worked closely with the main contractor on the enhancement of blueprints – from the ground up – to ensure the most comprehensive engineering review possible.

About MahaNakhon Tower

Designed by Ole Scheeren, MahaNakhon is a luxury mixed-use skyscraper located in the Silom/Sathon central business area of Bangkok, Thailand, featuring a hotel, residences and retail establishments.

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