Mumbai, do it like Bangkok Park

Shining Example! Chulalongkorn University Centenary Park

Mumbai, do it like Bangkok Park

Rainwater harvesting to check floods

Many cities are being run without any proper plan, says Centenary Park architect Kotchakorn Voraakhom says

HYDERABAD, Feb 12 (The CONNECT) – The ran harvesting project of the highly flood prone Bangkok is an ideal example for many cities globally. The floods hardly inundate the city now as the water flows into the tanks under the Chulalongkorn University Centenary Park.

Narrating the experience, the green project architect Kotchakorn Voraakhom told the three-day virtual conference of Landscape Architects that “Like my city, many cities are being run without any proper plan.” 

Centenary Park is the first critical piece of green infrastructure for the city of Bangkok, designed to mitigate detrimental ecological issues and add much-needed outdoor public space to the grey city. This Park is designed to face future uncertainties of climate change as Bangkok is a climate-vulnerable city. It has little green space, and this park, which contains the largest green roof in Thailand, is an invaluable addition to the ecological landscape.  

The 14th National Conference of ISOLA or Indian Society of Landscape Architects, with the theme "Unbuilt Landscapes" opened on Friday virtually.

Delivering the keynote address, Voraakhom, the Thai landscape architect who made a mark at COP-26 and recipient of the United Nations Global Climate Action Award at the recently concluded the 26th Conference of Parties (CoP 26) at Glasgow, explained how she was determined to save Bangkok from drowning. “The health of the city is directly related to the health of the people,” she said.

The flooding of the city reached such a level that in the year 2011 was the worst flood in its history. And now it is estimated that the city will be underwater by 2030. The New York Times state the rising seal will erase more cities by 2050. But, many governments which are trying to find engineering-based solutions are not going to yield any positive results. And she added that Urban Planning is the key factor.

Voraakhom and her team built an innovative park in Bangkok that controls floods. The rainwater here flows into special tanks underneath the park. And it can be used to water the entire park for 20 days.

THE CONNECT VIEW: As Bangkok green project architect Kotchakorn Voraakhom said, there is a big learning for Indian cities facing doom by 2050. Rainwater Harvesting and holding ponds must be planned and executed quickly to store water. Cities like Mumbai are blessed with bountiful rains and we just allow the natural water go down the drain for desalination plants. This is criminal

The tanks can hold 3.8 million litres of rainwater – equivalent to a one meter deep American football field.  

Cities are for the living. Parks are one of the answers to building happier cities, she said. She is confident of turning Bangkok from a grey city into a green city.  

Mohan S. Rao, Principal Design, Integrated Design (INDE) India spoke about nurturing an unbuilt landscape, which he said is meant to convey the idea of mindful interventions reinforcing rather than replacing or transforming nature. He spoke about the balance aspect of the theme.  

In her welcome address Dr Sridevi Rao, National Honorary President of ISOLA and a Hyderabad Landscape Architect, said 'India has three quantifiable nationally determined contributions (NDCs) as part of  the Paris Agreement that includes lowering emissions, increasing power generation away from fossil fuels, and creates a carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tons. Today, India is the only country in the G20, which is moving fast towards achieving its climate goals. India has set a target of 450 GW of renewable energy by the end of this decade that is 2030'

Over 750 Landscape Architects, architects, urban designers, ecologists, planners, government agencies and allied professionals are participating in the first virtual conference, conference convener Naveen Panuganti said.

Naveen, the Landscape Architect behind Statue of Equality, said  “just as we have been adapting to a multitude of changes in our lives to settle into the new normal, they also made a very significant contribution by making us re-align the way we perceive open spaces.”

“These temporary changes helped us re-imagine our cities as a place that feels and smells better, sounds more peaceful and permits better sleep. The derivation of these experiences allowed us to design the framework for this year's conference theme -Unbuilt landscapes," he said.

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