The city of Bangkok boasts a weird and wonderful collection of architecture that ranges from luxurious hotels and apartments created in a number of different Western styles to impressive Thai temples with glittering golden roofs and Chinese-style mansions. One of the best ways to view the buildings of Bangkok is by taking a trip along the Chao Phraya River. However, lovers of architecture will soon notice that not all of the city’s impressive buildings are currently inhabited.
During the Asian Financial crises in 1997, a number of buildings were left unfinished due to lack of funds and were simply abandoned. Because their owners could not be located, permission to develop or demolish these buildings could not be granted, and so the buildings remain standing, waiting for their owners to return.
The Ghost Tower
People who take a stroll around the Sathorn district of Bangkok will soon come across the towering structure of Sathorn Unique. This 50 storey skyscraper was originally intended to serve as one of the most luxurious residences in the city. However, the Sathorn Unique was never completed and is now dubbed the ‘ghost tower’.
The entrance to Sathorn Unique is overgrown by a tangle of trees and bushes, which curious visitors can easily push their way through to step inside. The structure of this enormous tower is impressive and features Romanesque columns and four storey arches.
One of the most striking things about the Sathorn Unique is that although fourteen years have passed since construction ceased, things have been left as they were on the day that the builders left. The spacious ground floor of the building features two escalators, which climb to floors that will never be occupied. Fragments of plastic wrapping still cling to the stainless steel sides of these escalators, while many of the apartments in the upper floors feature elegant bathrooms, large wardrobes and polished wooden floors.
The Original Plan
Sathorn Unique was originally intended to house a total of 659 residential units and a collection of more than fifty different retail outlets. The tower’s position on the bend of the Chao Phraya River would have meant that many of the residents would have been treated to stunning river views from their apartments, while the location of the Saphan Taksin Skytrain station just a few metres away would have made getting around Bangkok extremely easy.
Sadly, these days the only residents at Sathorn Unique are a collection of ghosts, or at least that’s what many Thai people believe. While exploring this interesting building may be tempting, people who let their curiosity get the better of them should note that many parts of the structure are unstable, while the packs of wild dogs that roam around the building provide an extra deterrent.
You can make it to the top of Sathorn Unique at your own risk. Sathorn Unique can be found at the end of Sathorn Road behind the luxurious Shangri-La hotel. The building bears a strong resemblance to the nearby State Tower, which is home to the famous Sky Bar. If the Sathorn Unique had been completely it would be without doubt one of the most desirable residences in Bangkok, but now it stands empty as testament to a traumatic period in Thailand’s history.