Thursday , March 4 2021

The Bangkok Centennial Park is struggling with the flood in a losing city



When the Thai architect Kotchakorn Woerahom was a little girl, she played in Bangkok's flood waters. Now she helps reduce the flood in the city with an innovative urban design.

Bangkok, a city with more than 8 million people, is located on the low-level Chao Phraya Delta and is only 1.5 meters above sea level on average. Strong rainfall in the wet season makes it vulnerable to flood.

Worse, the sea level is rising, and the city is falling – under the weight of its buildings and because of the water layers under it there is too much water.

But help comes from an unlikely source – a park in the heart of the city.

The Centennial Park, built on Chulalongkorn University campus, has a beautiful green space with fountains, exercise bikes and children's playgrounds.

Designed by Voraakhom and her landscaping firm Landprocess, there's more to this eye-catching 11 acres (45,000 square meters) park.

"This park is not only (about) beautification or recreation," Voraakhom told CNN. "It helps the city deal with water."

According to the Landprocess, the Centennial Park can store up to one million gallons of water.

According to the Landprocess, the Centennial Park can store up to one million gallons of water. Credit: Courtesy Landprocess

How does it work

Many design elements combine to help park store rainwater and keep the surrounding streets from flooding in heavy rainy places.

The park is built on a slope, and the roof of the main grass and angle park of the grass slopes a funnel in rainforest gardens.

When it passes through the gardens, water is obtained from artificial wetlands. From there, water enters the pond, which can hold almost 480,000 gallons (1800 cubic meters).

Under a porous ground there is a water tank with a capacity of almost 160,000 gallons (600 cubic meters). In general, up to one million liters (4,546 cubic meters) of water can be held in the park.

"We have to rethink our city," Voraahom said. "It's not about creating flood or engineering solutions for a large dam, but about how we can live with water."

Depending on the overwhelming Chao Phraya River near October 29, 2011, Bangkok's flood waters affect the market.

Depending on the overwhelming Chao Phraya River near October 29, 2011, Bangkok's flood waters affect the market. Credit: Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images AsiaPac / Getty Images

Herbert Dreiseitl is a Landscape and Reservoir Architect and Visiting Professor at the Singapore National University. He told CNN that the project is a good example of how to creatively use landscapes for a multifunctional purpose.

"This kind of project … starts when the rain gets to the surface – in open spaces, on green parks, on the roofs, and it delays and water is treated in the right way," he said.

Greening in the city

Dreiseitl says the park also provides green space in a heavily-developed city, making Bangkok more attractive and more people-friendly.

According to the Asian city's green index, which compares the 22 largest Asian cities, Bangkok has only 3 square meters of green space per person, well below the index average of 39 square meters per person.

The park, completed in March 2017, is too small to have an impact on its immediate surroundings, but Voraahom wants it to act as a case study at other locations, suggesting that cities can be transformed to combine landscape architecture with green solutions .

"It's kind of a soft revolution in city planning," said Dreiseitl. "It will take some time, but these good solutions are convincing that other private investors and government bodies or local authorities follow this model."

He added that this kind of park could work in other cities, but the issue could also be the lack of space and resources.

Centennial Park includes a variety of anti-flooding functions.

Centennial Park includes a variety of anti-flooding functions. Credit: Courtesy Landprocess

Land Process now works on a similar park at Thammasat University in Pathum Than Province, located in the flood area north of Bangkok.

According to the company's data, the park will be three times larger than the Centennial Park and is three times higher than the water storage capacity. It is expected to open next year.


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