The derelict Sathorn Unique Tower, the underground party heaven of Bangkok, Thailand

Petar Djajkovski
Left: Sathorn Unique Tower, Photo: neajjean, CC BY-SA 2.0. Right: Unfinished top floors. Photo Credit: john, CC BY-ND 2.0

Sathorn Unique Tower is a huge unfinished skyscraper rising high into the skies of Thailand. Bangkoks population growth and over crowding problems called for a new and more effective way of housing.

So the solution was to build a condominium complex with a lot of space for a lot of people. The project started in 1990 and was mainly financed by the Sathorn Unique Co. Ltd. but also by Thai Mex Finance and Securities Company. Construction was going fast and ahead of schedule but in 1993 it stopped overnight.

The real estate developer and designer of the building Rangsan Torsuwan was arrested. The case drew huge public interest due to its nature as he was arrested for allegedly plotting to murder the President of the Supreme Court of Thailand. However the murder never happened, but the case dragged on for 15 years in court. He was found guilty in 2008 but released in 2010 by the Court of Appeals.

Sathorn Unique Tower, an abandoned skyscraper in Bangkok. Photo Credit: neajjean, CC BY-SA 2.0
Sathorn Unique Tower, an abandoned skyscraper in Bangkok. Photo Credit: neajjean, CC BY-SA 2.0

However the case destroyed any chance of restarting the construction of the skyscraper. Rangsan reputation as a businessman, developer was destroyed and it was impossible for him to find investment so making it impossible to fill hole in the budget and complete the building.

Unfinished top floors. Photo Credit: john, CC BY-ND 2.0
Unfinished top floors. Photo Credit: john, CC BY-ND 2.0

Location & Design

Sathorn Unique Tower is located on the bank of Chao Phraya River, close to the King Taksin Bridge. A very good and central location to live and the building occupies approximately 34.000 square feet (3.200 square metres), it was designed to have 49 storeys, with two underground levels.

Next to the skyscraper there is a 10 storey car park. The style of the building has been described as: “exultant post-modernism, architectural pastiche in which styles and eras are thrown together without any signs of restraint” by “CultureShock! Bangkok” magazine. Sathorn Unique Tower has a sister building in Bangkok named State Tower also designed by Rangsan Torsuwan. His design often features neo-Grecian elements, especially in the columns and balconies of the buildings.

Sathorn Unique Tower and the 10 store parking garage on the left. Photo Credit: m-louis, CC BY-SA 2.0
Sathorn Unique Tower and the 10 store parking garage on the left. Photo Credit: m-louis, CC BY-SA 2.0
View from the top of the Tower. Photo Credit: Alexander Blecher, CC BY-SA 3.0
View from the top of the Tower. Photo Credit: Alexander Blecher, CC BY-SA 3.0

Urban explorers map

Sathorn Unique Tower in the back, roof of a temple up front. Photo Credit: john, CC BY-ND 2.0
Sathorn Unique Tower in the back, roof of a temple up front. Photo Credit: john, CC BY-ND 2.0

The structure is almost finished, however the interior and infrastructural works had barely began when the construction completely stopped. So many basic details are missing like walls and staircases, some of the top floors remain almost incomplete.  Being as it is, this building had become a magnet for urban explorers.

It is definitely on the urban exploration map as a prime destination in Thailand, receiving visitors from all over the world every year. However before setting a route to Thailand it’s good to know that officially the Sathorn Unique Tower is off-limits for the public. Completely illegal to go inside and roam around the corridors, however, unofficially it is not very hard to do it. Due to poverty and corruption levels in Thailand, apparently  it’s very easy to bribe the security guards on the premises.

Graffiti on the very top. Photo Credit: Alexander Blecher, CC BY-SA 3.0
Graffiti on the very top. Photo Credit: Alexander Blecher, CC BY-SA 3.0

Underground parties & tragic stories

The building appeared in the media, mainly in the newspapers, in December 2014 when a body of a Swedish man was found hanging on the 43rd floor. The police report determinates the cause of death as suicide by suffocation, though the newspapers were talking about local gangs and robberies that can happen to foreigners. This was the peak of the popularity of the Sathorn Unique Tower. On weekends hundreds of people organized underground parties inside. In September 2015 a member of Sathorn Unique Co. pressed criminal charges for trespassing against five people. Those five people were sent to court because they posted photographs of the inside of the building online. Two foreigners who shared a video on the web of themselves parkouring the abandoned building also received charges for trespassing.

The dilapidated interior of the building. Photo Credit: Alexander Blecher, CC BY-SA 3.0
The dilapidated interior of the building. Photo Credit: Alexander Blecher, CC BY-SA 3.0

 

Bottom floors, the typical columns and balconies can be seen. Photo Credit: m-louis, CC BY-SA 2.0
Bottom floors, the typical columns and balconies can be seen. Photo Credit: m-louis, CC BY-SA 2.0

Thailand is also known for superstitions and the stories of the building being haunted is nothing strange. People from nearby communities talk of an old graveyard under the skyscraper. And others say that the land is cursed, simply not meant for success – a wasted cause.