Bangkok’s Robot Building

I’d first like to welcome everyone and myself back to BuildingMyBento, as unfortunately I have been extremely busy as of late.

A few years ago, I was taking the Bangkok light rail (BTS) to Chong Nonsi, a relatively nondescript station save for its view of downtown Bangkok skyscrapers, in particular, an unusual structure not too far away.  It appeared be an outline of a robot, and for some bizarre reason, I didn’t bother walking to it that day.  Perhaps it was the delicious pandan & lemongrass drink that I just purchased that did the deciding, or the memory of walking down one too many a soi (side street/alley) that became dead-ends, whatever it was, I just didn’t make it over to the robot.  (Link courtesy of

Yet on every successive trip, I still managed NOT to go.  I think I just became inured to the Middle Eastern food and pomegranate juice of Sukhumvit Soi 3 (an area predominantly consisting of Arabs and West Africans, but move a couple of blocks in either direction, and you’re back to the Bangkok you may have “heard about”) that I didn’t explore the city much elsewhere.  Occasionally, if I couldn’t find mango sticky rice in that Soi 3, I’d go to Khaosan (backpackers’ hovel; also good if you want a fake social security card or Transvaal passport) for my fill.

Recently though…

Bangkok, United Overseas Bank-1

The robot building, formerly known as the Bank of Asia tower (which is now the United Overseas Bank tower), was constructed in 1985.  Sumet Jumsai, the architect, apparently noticed the toy robot that he saw his child clinging to, inspiring him to say to the Bank of Asia’s top brass “let’s hit it.”  It’s also fitting that discussions of  futuristic technology hit their zenith during the early-mid 1980s, thus the robot meshed well with the zeitgeist.  Though, its zany features are relatively pragmatic, as the antennas are lightning rods and the eyes house executives chambers.   Those last two sentences sound a bit too formal, so I’ll throw a few more pictures your way for good measure:

Bangkok, United Overseas Bank-2

Bangkok, United Overseas Bank-3

Unfortunately, due to a Thai holiday it was closed the day I visited, but it didn’t seem like access would be as unfettered as my time at the elephant building.

Bangkok, United Overseas Bank-4

Since doors were shut that day, I felt a bit gypped.  What’s that?  Go back another day?  Ya, sure.  But until then, I’ll leave you with a building that’s a bit more on the morose side:

A Mazda dealer by the Bangkok Dusit Thani hotel

Have any of you seen a robot building outside of Bangkok?  If I had to guess a location for another version, it would probably be in China.  If you’ve ever owned a copy of the Sim City 2000 Urban Renewal Kit (or if you don’t yet, you could get it at AND visited mainland China, then you might think contemporary Chinese architects got a little carried away with that game.  It should be noted though, I’m all for constructing llama domes on every other city block.  (Link courtesy of

This entry was posted in Architecture, East & Southeast Asia and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Bangkok’s Robot Building

  1. shb says:

    Sim City 2000 Urban Renewal rules! Would be great to see more articles on odd buildings like this from your globe trotting travels

  2. ASP says:

    The Eyes house the Executive Chambers. Sounds like the perfect place to house my company’s corporate offices.

  3. Pingback: What Cures Optimism? Reality. « buildingmybento

  4. Pingback: New York’s Halloween Tower « buildingmybento

  5. Pingback: New York’s Halloween Tower « buildingmybento


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.