Swedish manufacturers enter Thai housing market

Several Swedish and Sweden related exhibitors displayed their goods and know how at the recent Architect 04 trade fair in Bangkok.
     Thailand’s construction market has recuperated a lot since the currency crisis erupted mid 1997.
     Suspended housing and commercial building projects have been restarted and completed and new construction sites can be seen everywhere in larger cities.
     Still it is not an easy sell for Swedish products on this market in Thailand.
     “We have to educate the market what acoustics is all about,” says Max Falck, the Bangkok based area export manager for Saint-Gobain Ecophon Acoustic Ceilings who attends the trade fair at his Thai distributor Trandar International’s booth.
     Ecophon’s ceilings are all made in Scandinavia and come in many styles and shapes.
     All with the aim to manage the cacophony of sounds that occur inside rooms and halls to levels that are functional, pleasant and relevant to the purpose of the actual place.
     And it doesn’t have to be the typical office that faces a need to cut noise.
     “Like the grand mosque in Kuala Lumpur. The reverberation time, echo, was 15 seconds with the original ceiling. After they fitted the ceiling and walls with our products, which were and cut to fit into the delicate Islamic art ceiling pattern to keep the look and feel untouched, this problem disappeared,” says Max Falck.
     Ecophon has installations in more than ten Asia Pacific countries.
     In Thailand the main focus is on grade a office buildings, but also projects like Dreamworld benefits from good acoustics and good design thanks to ceilings from ecophon.
     But again, it is not just the typical office may use acoustic ceilings. The Oriental’s kitchen is proof of that.
     “Kitchens are normally very noisy. In addition to manage the sound Ecophon’s hygiene range also provided a ceiling that is easily cleaned,” says Max Falck.
     In the outdoor area stands a small house with a veranda.
     Viking Wood – slow growing wood from Sweden, says a sign on top of the veranda.
     Chouvalit Chongvatana, managing director at Prime Selection Ltd, is the man behind this initiative to bring Swedish pine to the Thai construction market.
     “My main aim at this trade fair is to see architects, interior designers and contractors who work with small and medium sized projects,” says Chouvalit.
     Swedish pine is, contrary to the fast growing Asian pine, strong and durable and Chouvalit admits he still has to work hard informing the local market about this difference.
     “On top of the quality aspect I have found Swedish wood reliable in other terms as well. Things like delivery on time, guaranteed availability and quantity and a stable price. While steel prices have gone up 40 percent here the last year Swedish wood prices have remained unchanged,” says Chouvalit who has hopes that some constructor will try to swap steel for Swedish pine in for example roof support structures.
     Blonde Swedish wood does also offer a different look than tropical dark woods do and it can very well be used together with local woods to create new designs.
     So far some Thai resorts and offices have opted for Swedish pine in their projects.
     Both as parts of interior design and for outdoor usage, like one resort that have clad the area surrounding its swimming pool with Swedish pine floorings.

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