Bangkok Porous City: New Landscapes of Equity and Prosperity 2.0

This studio will bring together faculty and students from diverse disciplinary backgrounds to imagine how the last development parcel where river and city meet in central  Bangkok could be designed as a "city for all," for greater social inclusion and for ecological and climate resiliency, while addressing developmental needs and cultural and recreational programs for the metropolitan region, today one of a handful of global cities in Southeast Asia with a population of 16 million inhabitants.

The site is Bangkok’s former container port facility in the Khlong Toei district, on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, Thailand’s main waterway. Its owner, the Port Authority, has the intention of developing the site. However, for the past 75 years the site has also been the home of an informal settlement, the largest in the city. The site gathers and magnifies all the contemporary challenges of Bangkok: flooding, exclusion, uncontrolled market forces, and significant impacts of climate change. At the same time, there is much inspiration to be gained from its past and present. We are inspired by the history of the encounter between water and city in Bangkok, and by the vibrant spaces of exchange and social adaptation in a watery terrain. We are also interested in the way extreme density induces the creative adaptation of places, making us realize our own rigid ways of assigning programs to spaces, and of making unnecessary boundaries that curtail possibilities for the enrichment of social life.

The studio will build upon the work of students developed during the 2022 Spring semester led by Anita Berrizbeitia and Alejandro Echeverri. This work provides foundational information about Bangkok and the Khlong Toei site. Four proposals will be examined in detail, critiqued, and advanced as design exercises. Pedagogically, this is a unique opportunity to develop interpretative and design developments skills that evolve a concept into advanced stages of design.

Working individually and in teams, students will focus on a deeper exploration of the canal system as a socio-ecological network, on the equitable distribution of shade and ventilation-producing canopy, on the integration of socio-economic communities within the urban block, on the different scales and modalities of sharing climate vulnerabilities, on alternative forms of public space, and on the equal distribution of life-enhancing resources and services, a landscape of equity and prosperity for all. This is a sponsored studio, its results will serve to catalyze conversations.

The studio will travel to Bangkok for one week. The studio will be led by Anita Berrizbeitia and Ignacio Bunster-Ossa, with regular participation of Kotchakorn Voraakhomm, and faculty from the GSD and Bangkok.