lebua Bangkok

100 Stories: “Being challenged in life Is inevitable, being defeated Is optional”

“We never once had the thought: ‘It can’t be done.’ We had no time. We simply had to find a way,” said the chief engineer in charge of realising Deepak Ohri’s dream of creating the world’s first vertical destination.

“Deepak had an idea. And he is a great visionary. He could conceptualise all of the new rooftop bars and restaurants. From lebua No.3, through to Pink Bar and finally, Chef’s Table. He had it all in his mind. In April 2018 he said: ‘Right it’s time. Let’s start!’ And then we did the impossible and in less than one year it was completed…”

So from inspiration to realisation in less than one year.
But not without challenges.
The site of Chef’s Table was on the, previously inaccessible, 61st floor. So once the lift shaft had been created and the Otis lift installed, construction could begin in earnest.

To create the height, space and volume of a grand cathedral necessitated the careful removal of columns and the floor slab above. 100 tonnes of steel were added as structural beams and columns for support. The steel spanned the voids and spaces and also supports the new lift shaft.

The neoclassical curved balconies were renovated for the first time and the whole façade was covered by window glass. “The lebua Hotel’s iconic architecture features thousands of curved balconies that provide outdoor space and also provide shade from the tropical sun. For Chef’s Table we exploited the balcony design to create internal glazed pods with double height curved windows to give an experience of floating in the night sky. The design enhances the spirit of the original building rather than creating tension,” says the designer Scott Whittaker of dwp.

And apart from the logistical challenges of cutting and re-welding everything larger than 2.20m to fit it into one lift, the transportation of delicate materials was nerve-wracking. “I was anxious about the Carrara marble for the chefs table”, says Scott, “Some of the blocks had invisible hairline fractures when cut open. Luckily we had excess stone and the craftsman skilfully worked around the fractures.”

The concept of a restaurant as a divine kitchen is, of course, a wonderful idea, but the realisation somewhat more challenging. There could be nothing worse than enjoying a luxurious, romantic evening than leaving with the smell of lobster lingering in your beautiful dress. So an extremely effective ventilation system was necessary. The glorious champagne-gold hood above the the chef’s table is not only drop-dead gorgeous; but practical too. 
Together with the team of engineers from Meinhardt and Halton a one-of-a-kind suspended ventilation system that magically extracts all the cooking fumes – silently – was created.

Another challenge was how we deal with the heat. The custom built Molteni stove is certainly sexy; but it is not hot! Induction elements prevent heat from emitting anywhere other than into the metal pans…

We broke our challenges into gourmet sized pieces… which only fitting at Chef’s Table.