2018 DESIGNING RESILIENCE IN ASIA INTERNATIONAL DESIGN COMPETITION

DROWNING BY THE SEA

(ONLY OPEN TO PARTNER UNIVERSITIES)

The annual DRIA international design competition encourages foresighted urban and architectural design proposals, as well as promotes innovation in building technologies to insure a specific community’s resiliency particularly prior to and during a disastrous event. A different community in Asia is picked every year as the competition’s test site through careful joint research efforts of the School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore and its network partners.

 

BANGKOK, THAILAND

 

‍Bangkok traces its origins back to the 15th century when it began as a small village under the rule of the original capital of Siam,    Ayutthaya. In 1767 King Taksin relocated the country’s capital to Bangkok on the western banks of the river in the area now known as Thonburi. The city of Bangkok lies in the low alluvial and delta plain, where small man-made canals (khlong) split off from the main Chao Phraya River serving as the main method of transportation as well as to irrigate the region’s rice paddies. The course of the river has historically changed several times, and shortcut canals have been constructed to bypass the river meanders to shorten the commercial connections from the interior of the country and the city to the sea. in 1542, a two kilometer-long canal that became the riverbank of the modern Bangkok build by King Rama I, the current Old City.

CHAO PHRAYA, URBAN CENTER AND MAJOR TRANSPORTATION ARTERY

 

The Chao Phraya River has been and is still the most important waterway in central Thailand forncommercial and cargo shipping transport to Bangkok and upstream. In addition, the Chao Phraya is a major transportation artery for a network of river buses, cross-river ferries, and water taxis (“longtails”). More than 50,000 people use its ferries every day, and 15 boat lines operate on the rivers and canals of the city, including commuter lines. This strategic relationship with the river has developed the river banks’ landscape as a vertically grown urban center with hotels, condominiums, traditional neighborhoods, industrial buildings and warehouses, solemn temples, churches and civic buildings.

POPULATION: A FAST GROWING CITY

 

‍The city rapidly grew in the post-war period as a result of United States developmental aid and government-sponsored investment. Extremely fast urban development led to increasing income inequalities and unprecedented migration from rural areas into Bangkok. This increased the population from 1.8 to 3 million in the 1960s and continued through the 1980s and early 1990s to the current 8.2 million (2010). This rapid growth is not stopping, and estimates predict that by 2050 population will increase to 11 million. It is interesting to note that the most populated districts are not located in the urban center along the Chao Phraya. On the other hand we note that most of the MRT public transport lines and highways provide high accessibility to the center. This shows a highly specilized land use planning in the city, with an urban center for services and commercial uses and a periphery dedicated to residential areas and living spaces. This centralized and specialized model is one of the causes that creates difficulties in the mobility system of the city.

IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE: RAPID URBANIZATION, FLOODING AND SUBSIDENCE

The cost of fast development is not for free, and the city is experiencing many problems due to the effects of rapid urbanization and climate change. Rapid urbanization and urban population growth in Bangkok is causing the increase of water demand and consumption. As a consequence deep well pumping has been a normal practice in Bangkok for the past 35 years provoking land subsidence. Its impact is particularly critical because of the flat low-lying topography and the presence of a thick soft clay layer at the ground surface that augment flood risk and foundation engineering problems, respectively. The subsidence reached its most critical state in the early 1980s when it occurred at a rate as high as 12 cm/year. Moreover, sinking seems to be accelerated by the sheer number, size and weight of all the new buildings pressing down on the land all around Bangkok, according to the NRC committee. As an effect to land subsidence, combined with sea level rise and the increase of the tropical storms and typhoons, Bangkok is also suffering from flooding, and it might turn from occasional to permanent due to subsidence, which is reflected in many reports that estimate that the city could be under water by 2030. Although in the last years the city has invested in flood prevention plans and engineering solutions to tackle the problem of flooding building flood barrier-ism, flood prevention walls or water drainage tunnels the city continues to flood. The river banks of the Chao Phraya, despite having protection walls, are some of the areas under biggest threat and usually the most affected areas during flooding episodes. This is affecting not only an important amount of high value heritage, but also one of the areas of the city with the highest contribution to the local economy.
The flooding and subsidence challenges as consequences of the impacts of climate change add one more level of complexity to the city of Bangkok. that will have to deal also with continuous urbanization, increasing population and the effects of urbanization in the coming years.

RE-ENVISIONING THE CHAO PHRAYA RIVERFRONT TO MITIGATE AND ADAPT TO FLOODING AND SUBSIDENCE

 

 

‍Proposals will have to deal with the revitalization and transformation of the Chao Phraya river as a central area for the city taking into consideration the pre-existing activities, urban tissues, cultural assets, infrastructure and consolidated communities and proposing the selection of potential sites where to locate the new programs and projects that, according to the team strategy, are needed to transform the riverfront into a vibrant central urban space for Bangkokians. Specific areas for intervention and opportunity places and spaces will have to be determined by teams within the larger indicated area. The selection of specific areas will be the result of the site analysis and the strategic approach to the project. The plans for Kadeejeen- Khlong San and Yannawa Riverfront (in blue) can be considered as given data. Teams will discretionally decide if the plans for these areas need to be revised and how to incorporate them in the general model and plan for the riverfront and, if any, which changes should they incorporate. A strategic timeline will be necessary for the implementation of the proposals.Teams will have to find the specific sites and locations for the strategic interventions and programs according to their own strategies, visions and model for the Chao Phraya and the surrounding areas. The programs for the specific sites will be defined by the teams according to their own understanding of the future role of the Chao Phraya river as a vibrant central area for Bangkok dealing with the prevention of the effects of climate change.

Projects will provide a holistic master plan view, and specific zones will serve as strategic test sites for the teams to experiment. Solutions will have to do much more than just protect and prevent from river flooding, sea-level rise and subsidence. Projects will have to be proactive address energy production and use, ecological health, sewage overflows, and global green shipping.

Teams are to consider the following aspects:

  • Redefining a resilient boundary between Land and Water
  • Redefining a resilient Green and Blue System
  • Redefining resilient and sustainable mobility, accessibility and connectivity
  • Redefining new programs
  • Redefining the cultural linkage
  • Redefining urban and architecture typologies and prototypes

IMPORTANT DATES

SUBMISSION OF COMPETITION ENTRIES

30 July 2018 (Digital Submission) 18:00 Singapore Time

SUBMISSION OF COMPETITION PRESENTATION AND VIDEOS

6 August 2018

OPENING OF DRIA 2017 AND SYMPOSIUM

15 August 2018

PRESENTATION OF COMPETITION ENTRIES

15 August 2018

ANNOUNCEMENT OF AWARD HONOREES

17 August 2018

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