Those behind a quixotic battle to preserve prime, green space in the core of Bangkok want the public to see what they do, as plans to develop it creep forward.
For two years activists have sought support for making parkland out of the Makkasan area, now filled with decaying train yards of the cash-strapped state railway, which wants to raise malls over it all to rescue its ledgers from the red.
Two years after Makkasan Hope organized concerts and petitions to call for the area’s preservation, development plans took a step forward yesterday with news the Finance Ministry has staked out a compromise position that would mix commercial gain with social utility in a mixed development including both park space and commerce.
It’s unclear what the ratio of that mix will be, or whether it will resemble the vision recently set forth by a coalition of activists and designers shown at the Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre. Their recently concluded exhibit sought to provoke the public to consider what city it wants to live in: an unbroken expanse of shopping malls or a place with green pockets offering escape and reflection?
Renderings of proposed cultural and eco attractions were created by landscape and urban design firm Shma to include commercial elements to satisfy the State Railway of Thailand’s fiscal concerns.
“We came up with this concept of 80 percent green and 20 percent commercial areas,” Shma spokeswoman Pichaporn Aroonrut said. “They’ll still have the ability to generate money.” Inspired by such as New York’s High Line park and Seoul’s reclamation of the Cheonggyecheon, the design also builds in community relevance with features such as green roof bridges connected to adjoining communities to “expand into 12 different areas of the community … linking them together,” she added.
With apparent public support favoring green space, Pichaporn said they hope to win support from the current government, while acknowledging the political instability which has frustrated getting a final answer.
“The government is changing all the time, and when they government changes this is never final,” she said.
While the Makkasan Hope exhibition ended this week, some of the images were kept on display on the BACC’s fifth floor.
Image: Shma Designs