Rough or smooth, pure and simple, concrete is a dear material to us all. The WSU Gallery in Bangkok exemplifies another facet of how to create spaces with it. ASWA chose to design a solid concrete box, making an introverted architecture. The client, a Thai artist, preferred privacy in the lively neighbourhood and the architects delivered just that.

Openings are sparse from the street, and a concrete block cantilevers over, creating deep shadows in the entrance hall. The hard and gritty exterior lets nothing out, cocooning the interior activities and safekeeping the natural light that enters through a large skylight.

The exterior is mirrored in the interior, with an overwhelming amount of concrete. The plan is simple with a two storey gallery space, adjacent to a small area dedicated to the artist’s ongoing works and a large storage room on the first floor.

The definition of a light well takes a whole new meaning when confronted with this central stairwell. It is bright and open, complimented by a few openings into the upper floor to take a peek at the art collection stored. A sculptural wooden staircase, featuring a single steel handrail goes up into the well to access the first floor.

Light dances and bounces off the concrete texture. The colours that land on the concrete shifts from warm tones with the interior lighting to a crisp grey when encountered to sunlight – it is as though the materiality is the canvas of choice for the inhabitant as it emphasizes the art and the limited use of wood and steel. The entire building revolves around this transitional space, always referring back to it, as it acts as the centrepiece of the gallery.

The simple palette of materials was key in the design process. ‘By combining the three main materials; steel, concrete, and wood, it created a raw architectural complexion,’ boasts the architects.