Robot Building, Bangkok
The Robot Building is the current headquarters of United Overseas Bank and is located in the Sathorn business district of Bangkok, Thailand. Since its completion in 1987, it has come to be seen as one of the last examples of modernist architecture in the city.
It was designed by the Thai architect Sumet Jumsai for the Bank of Asia, with the intention of representing the increasing influence of computer technology on the banking industry. He was apparently inspired by seeing his young son’s plastic toy robot. Jumsai wanted the building to be a reaction against high-tech postmodern architecture, which he saw as being “a protest movement which seeks to replace without offering a replacement”.
To achieve the robot-like appearance of the 20-storey building, the sides step-back progressively in stages. This design technique also served as an efficient solution to the setback regulations that required an 18-degree incline from each side of the property line.
Two antennae on the roof serve as communications and lightning rods. The eyes are provided by two 6 m (19.7 ft) reflective glass windows looking out from executive meeting rooms, with eyelids made of metallic louvers. The building’s sides are adorned with ‘steel nuts’ made of glass-reinforced concrete, the largest of which measure 3.8 m (12.5 ft) in diameter, making them the largest in the world at the time of construction.
Despite some detractors, the Robot Building remains an icon of Bangkok architecture, and was selected by Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art as one of the 50 seminal buildings of the 20th century.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Building of the week series.
- Dancing House, Prague.
- Dunmore Pineapple.
- Fish Building, India.
- Fuji TV Building, Tokyo.
- Habitat 67.
- Lotus Temple.
- Lloyds of London.
- MahaNakhon, Bangkok.
- Ministry of Transportation Building, Georgia.
- Nakagin Capsule Tower.
- Office Center 1000 Kaunas.
- Owl House, South Korea.
- The Big Basket.
- The Gherkin.
- Unusual building design of the week.
Featured articles and news
UK-GBC green paper proposes more powers for cities on new-build housing.
The Pompidou Centre – not a monument but an event.
The Chartered Institute of Building restructures and launches 29 new local hubs.
Designing Buildings Wiki talks to the founder of the world's first indoor biophilic gym, now open in London.
£1.3bn Swansea Bay project to be backed as a 'pathfinder' for other tidal lagoon projects.
Designs released for a proposed Las Vegas stadium to entice the Oakland Raiders.
Have a look at these award-winning concept designs for a thermal bath in Latvia.
Flagship project no longer "a going concern" according to the Garden Bridge Trust as funding slows.
How the work of 20th century urbanist Jane Jacobs continues to resonate in light of the government's garden village plans.
New landmark for the Ecuadorean capital of Quito utilises a sinuous facade mold system.
Have a look at this glass piano and violin building in China.