In our Future Cities series, we sit down with prominent architects from across the Asia Pacific. In this segment, Kotchakorn Voraakhom of Landprocess and Porous City Network shares her visions and dreams of a future city.
“By 2050, rising sea levels could affect triple the amount of people previously predicted, threatening to all but erase some of the world’s great coastal cities including Bangkok. Southeast Asia, the region with the largest total coastline in the world, is facing extreme risk. Its cities, rooted in agrarian, water-based societies, have now transformed into paralysed concrete developments, leaving many delta capitals under extreme water stress. The need to shift away from concentrated land-based development is apparent.
‘Landscape porosity’ proves to be a useful approach by looking at how we can reclaim a city’s porosity, especially in the context of muddy delta cities. Porosity can be understood in this context as a city’s capacity to adapt to the natural flow of water, focusing on fluidity and flexibility as essential mechanisms of climate adaptability – elements often neglected in urban development.
Breathable void and healthy pore structures, allowing for the flow and penetration of water and wind, are thus key necessities. It is the mission of the Porous City Network (PCN) to defend these ecological pore spaces while creating more through trees, parks, green roofs, forests, wetlands, ponds and grasslands. In this regard, Bangkok serves as an excellent example of how building eco-centric green and blue infrastructures can revive our cities’ urban ecosystems.
To address diminishing landscape porosity, every square metre is needed to reclaim resilience for the land to live with water, rather than fear it. Every porous landscape innovation I have worked on has been my dream project. By sitting on a three-degree angle, the CU Centenary Park collects rainwater, purifies it through the wetlands, and restores it at the retention pond. The Thammasat University Urban Rooftop Farm, now Asia’s biggest, repurposed 236,806 sq ft of abandoned concrete roof space to grow crops – and that can slow down runoff up to 20 times more than regular concrete surfaces. The Chao Phraya Sky Park is the first bridge across the river in any world capital. There, the existing but abandoned infrastructure left unused for 40 years was turned into the pedestrian bridge’s park.”