For those who have a social life outside of Sukhumvit, rejoice at the fact that The Commons Saladaeng has finally celebrated its grand opening just last month. Following suit of the hip community space which first began in Thonglor Soi 17 four years ago, this second branch sits on a leafy nook on Saladaeng Soi 1.
“This street is one that is filled with trees, so you’ve got quite a nice tree-lined walk to get to the space here,” says founder Varatt Vichit-Vadakan, before adding with a laugh, “Which is pretty good by Thailand’s standards.”
Quite like its predecessor, The Commons Saladaeng maintains its destination of an oasis in the middle of the city. Although it is right in the heart of town like the one in Thonglor, it is a tad off the main street; requires a short walk to get to and is surrounded by a relaxing shade of greenery in the area. In front of the site, a massive Sai tree still stands, with the building’s design working around it in order to let the tree’s leafy canopy flourish.
The Commons is anything but common and its distinctive look and feel is one of the reasons why tourists near and far, as well as Bangkok’s foodies and revelers, keep returning. The heart of that is the common ground—where multi-purpose wooden pallets forming a staircase of varying levels provide a seating space that can also morph into grounds for a mini-concerts and a market place. It’s photogenic, is among Bangkok’s hottest places to be seen at, and is also the top place to go people watch. The Commons Saladaeng may be smaller in size at 3000 sqm, but its cliff-like common ground that spans across all the three floors here offers a perfect hawk-eye, connected view so you can easily spot other people throughout the space.
There is the same spirit of semi-outdoor airiness and wood-centric seating at Saladaeng, however, this second branch encompasses more local and cultural context beyond being a mere architectural wonder that’s a good one for the ‘Gram. The first thing anyone would notice is just how starkly red this Commons is, with walls and the roof splashed with maroon. This is to pay homage to the neighborhood, which translates to “red pavilion”. Department of Architecture, who also designed The Commons Thonglor, delved into the history of the area to discover that Saladaeng’s name traced back to the period of King Rama V, when the first railway line in Thailand still ran. “130 years ago, the Saladaeng station was part of the Paknam railway,” explains architect Amata Luphaiboon. “There were few buildings in the area, but most were pitched roof buildings. The train’s pavilion had a red pitched roof which stood out against the field and it was an iconic landmark at that time.”
This fed into the design of the W-shaped roofing that shoots up steep—a simple yet sharply dramatic aesthetic that drew inspiration from the original pitched roofs of the train pavilion. “130 years later, we hope that our little pavilion can become a landmark of Saladaeng too,” says Amata.
What’s different from The Commons Thonglor
First off, it’s smaller in size, with two floors dedicated to dining. On The Ground, suited to casual dining and grab-and-go, visitors will find in-house brands also founded by Varatt such as Roast and Roots, while immensely-rich matcha can be bought from Seven Suns. The flower pros Plant House have also opened an extensive shop here to sell cute gift items alongside their fanciful bouquets.
Next up on The Market floor is where 20 curated vendors of food and drinks sit, all amid the same ambiance of a cool canteen that the Thonglor branch flaunts. But more on the best bites to check out later. It’s the top floor, where The Platform sits, that the crew is ambitiously pushing. This wholesome, multi-functional space lets partners host workshops and classes without the upkeep of renting a full-time space. Varatt’s sister and co-founder of Commons, Vicharee Vichit-Vadakan, compares the space to a “vacation timeshare”. “It’s great for those who simply want to focus on their craft, as The Platform will be taking care of all the marketing and storage logistics,” she explains.
With an equipped kitchen, mirrored studios and expansive spaces, activities at The Platform rotate throughout the day. Children’s playgroups, barre and yoga workouts are among the main offerings during the day. Throughout the afternoon and evenings, pick from a roster of art workshops, wellness retreats with singing bowls, dance classes, cooking classes and skill-building workshops. After-hours sees sessions of swing dancing by Bangkok Swing or live jazz performances from Sweet Records. With all this, The Platform aims to be an inspiring place that offers fulfilling activities, as well as a hub for the community to get together. Using its own credit system, visitors can join in the activities by buying packages of credits starting at 2,500 baht for 50 credits over a validity of three months.
Beyond being a community space, there are also initiatives that the Commons group is taking to give back. A community fridge were all vendors can place their surplus food which would otherwise go to waste will be donated to Thai SOS, which brings them to orphanages and those in need. Waste oil goes to Bangkok Soap Opera to be made into soap, while a drinking station offers free water and is open to donations, with proceeds going to organizations in the neighborhood that need help.
Check This Out
The Commons Saladaeng retains its star quality of being a hip cathedral of trendy, quality and (sometimes) healthy food. A third of the vendors are familiar faces, but new concepts and faces that are only available here are introduced for the first time. Ice-cream fans can get their Guss Damn goodness with extra toppings here with the first Guss Sundae Bar. Draftland, a bar concept from Taipei, offers cocktails on tap. The folks behind Nashville-style fried chicken, Fowlmouth, have birthed Crack House—an egg-centric sister concept with all-American breakfast burritos and high quality versions of Mickey D’s McGriddle. There are also yoghurt bars, healthy bowls and fresh takes on dimsum, but worth a special mention is Paak. The innovative vegetable drink store wants to make taking in your greens easier—and they’ve concocted smoothies that taste just like a Caesar salad or miang-kham inspired cocktails with vegetable juices, if you can’t decide whether to have a boozy or healthy night out.
The Commons Saladaeng, Soi Saladaeng 1. Open 7am-1am.