The School of Constructed Environments challenges students to grapple with forces shaping the world today: shifts in global and local ecological flows, changes in living patterns, growing economic disparities, excessive consumption, and increasing ethnic diversity. Architecture, interior, lighting, and product design students work with faculty and global communities to develop design engagement, integrated thinking, and urban practice skills in a collective effort to create sustainable urban habitats, products, interiors, and buildings.
Bangkok: The Architecture of Three Ecologies
Our studio focused on three different municipal boat piers along San Saeb Canal in the heart of Bangkok and included the areas within a ten-minute walk from each pier. The studio was preceded by a ten-day workshop hosted by the Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University and funded by the Rotch Travelling Studio.
The San Saeb Canal boat piers are part of a low-cost and efficient water commuting network that connects the historical walled royal city, to the eastern suburbs, which runs parallel to the Bangkok Transit System Skytrain, and a string of spectacular Shopping Malls. Each pier is markedly different due to the context it connects to, but all three are currently invisible from the city above and hard to access, and the canal itself, while formally the main access to the east from the royal city, is now the “back-door” to the contemporary shopping center of the city.
The projects address the architecture of the three ecologies of Bangkok: first, the psychological condition of living simultaneously embedded in a culture of royal allegiance and devotion to Buddhism and an open embrace with modernization and globalization; second the social space that is created between the two worlds of modernity and tradition; and finally the environmental degradation that has accompanied modernization.
The projects are exemplary in that they do not privilege one condition or ecology over another, and treat slums, shopping centers, waterways, institutions, vendors and transportation systems as all of vital importance to the life of Bangkok, but rather search for hybridizations and recombinations of the multiple conditions of the architecture of Bangkok.