‘Smart Sathorn’ is a redesign of Sathorn, a major road in Bangkok’s CBD launched as a pilot project of “Bangkok Green Network” aiming to regenerate green space channeling through the capital city. Sathorn is known for housing many skyscrapers and offices to business along with luxurious condominiums, commercial spots, schools, and even foreign embassies. More importantly, it consists of several stops of Bangkok mass transit system passing through such as the Sathorn boat terminal, Surasak BTS station, and Lumphini MRT station.
Fading Historical Values and Challenges of Environmental Problems
The road comprises of a long story since the road was constructed during the reign of King Rama V together with the Sathorn Canal. At that time, areas along Sathorn were used as growing crops like fruits and betels among Thai community living there. Land plots along the Sathon road were also divided for housing estate selling to foreigners and people who can afford. Following in the reign of King Rama VI and VII, some of the land plots were combined into bigger ones, translating the land use into such of hospital, religious place, hotel, school, commercial building alternating with family detached house and betels garden in the inner part of Sathorn road.
As many decades passed by, the canal was filled up in order to widen the road to accommodate the growing number of cars, and turns into a drainage instead. Many land plots, again, were merged into even larger area for building taller skyscrapers, remaining only a few houses and evidence from the past.
As a result, now, Sathorn has been losing its historical identity and facing environmental problems from the lack of certain sustainable plans of urban development while playing as a part of growing Bangkok urban life. Just as we analysed the site, we found prominent issues occurred that confirm its situation, such as urban infrastructure blocking the sidewalk, misuse function of pedestrian path, polluted water condition, and lack of suffiecient trees and shadings.
“Smart Eco-Street” Urban Strategies
We saw its potential for positive change among those issues occurred, so we proposed a concept called “Smart Eco-Street” considering three aspects – ‘street’, ‘ecology’ and ‘innovation’, aiming to reconnect all scattered elements and stakeholders together again.
However, we saw its potential to develop a pilot design for a currently triggered project, “Bangkok Green Network”. Our proposal then came out as “Smart Sathorn” under the concept of “Smart Eco-Street” incorporating three aspects – street, ecology, and innovation together.
The newly proposed master plan consisted of 3 main parts – one, green area under Taksin Bridge, two, walking routes and bikeways from Charoenkrung to Narathiwat road, and from Narathiwat to Rama IV road for the last part. All will be thought and designed through 4 urban strategies.
- Reconnect Pedestrian by improving street and public space quality
- Reconnect district by activating local culture and history
- Reconnect Mass Transportation system
- Reconnect Ecology with natural elements application
Initial Phase – Pedestrian Path and Canals Development
First, we then came up with solutions to increase green space along the walkway and canal way with specific selection based on usage which are plants for lowering temperature, providing shade, and absorbing Carbon Dioxide. At the same time, plants for biodiversity creation and outdoor learning will also be considered.
Together with that, walkways (1.8 – 3.4 meters wide) were improved in a way that relocating urban infrastructure like electric poles to underground and designed new smooth and clear paving based on universal design criteria. Setbacks of private property next to the walkway can also be negotiated to reconnect in order to support such public activities and fill up with green space depicting the friendly image of Sathorn. For the bike lanes, it should kindly be elevated up at the same level as the walking path too, making a clear separation from the road with adequate width of 1.2-1.5 meters.
Relevant seating spots, bus stops, and convenient signage will be provided with such technological equipment like solar cells – gathering up energy for site usage, and interactive elements that can connect with smartphones. Street lighting has to be chosen smartly to meet sufficient use and safety for both walking and vehicle users. For instance, lighting poles along the pedestrian path should be less than 6 meters high, taller than trees to avoid interrupting branches, while at the crosswalk, taller poles can be used to be spotted by car drivers easily. These will surely enhance the walking quality on the street level to be more efficient, safe and lively.
On the other hand, the Sathorn Canal which is currently inaccessible, will be improved in several ways. First, we considered discarding sediments and garbage to increase water flow and plant trees along the bank as said above. Next, by equipping turbines and growing aquatic plants will totally add more Oxygen and help treat water. In the final outcome, the new public space standards and rules also need to be followed strictly to keep the area in good condition. Afterward, if possible, we would suggest redesigning advanced water channeling that separates drainage from rainwater too.
To sum up, these are key approaches offered for the 1st phase of the project, approximately 900 meters in total lengths beginning from Soi Convent until junction at Rama IV road.
Future Development – Skywalk integration
While looking toward the final picture of Sathorn development, we urge to introduce a skywalk integrated with the initial phase and the settlement of grey line monorail. It will also be constructed with green technology, minimizing the impact on Sathorn canal by allowing adequate sunlight to the underneath public space. This elevated elongated space allows activities such that people can take a seat and rest, run along the track and even exercise and make performance in a multipurpose area. The design also includes solar cell roof and planting for conserving energy and being habitats for animals like birds and insects, which at the same time, suggesting as an ecological learning space for city people.
The final result will eventually connect buildings and places along the road, enhancing interaction between people and creating a sense of community. Of course, it will improve Bangkokian’s quality of life as a new tourist and learning spot with the growth of greenery – help prevent flooding and conserve energy for the city.
‘Smart Sathorn’ surely marked as the beginning of a new journey, making Bangkok a green, sustainable metropolis.