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Living with the water, using green lungs to fight city floods

 

BANGKOK (Jan 9): The idea was pitched not just as a green space amidst the congested city of 10 million people, but as a flood-busting move that would also help the urban area adapt to climate change.

Landscape architect Kotchakorn Voraakhom pitched the idea for the park to Bangkok’s oldest university, Chulalongkorn University which called for ideas for a symbol to mark its centenary year.

Reuters quoted Kotchakorn, who said that parks and “green roofs” planted with vegetation soak up rain during the annual monsoon and help dense urban centres like Bangkok adapt to climate change.

“We need to be thinking about everything we build in the context of mitigating climate-change impact. It can’t be just about aesthetics, but also about serving a purpose,” she said.

“This was Bangkok’s first park in many years, so we had to make it count.”

Warming temperatures are expected to hit hard in Bangkok, which is built on the floodplains of the Chao Phraya River.

The news wire cites the World Bank, with data that states close to 40% of Bangkok may be inundated each year as soon as 2030 due to more extreme rainfall.

Climate experts have said that the city is sinking by more than 1cm each year. The city was once a network of canals, and was called “Venice of the East”.

“With so much construction and fewer canals, there is nowhere for the water to go,” said Kotchakorn, who is the head of the Bangkok-based landscape architecture firm Landprocess.

“But instead of building embankments along the river or thinking of ways to get rid of the water, we should be thinking about how to live with the water – how to manage the water.”

Spanning 11 acres, the Chulalongkorn Centenary Park is designed with an incline at a three-degree angle, to allow rain and floodwater to collect at it’s lowest point, which is a retention pond, while the highest point is a museum topped by a green roof that filters rainwater to be stored in large underground tanks. 

The water can be discharged later, or used in the event of a dry season, 

“No water that falls into the park is wasted,” said Kotchakorn.

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