When Nature Meets Culture: so Chaotic yet so Orderly and Exotic (part-1)

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a Note on IALI Jabar field-trip to Bangkok and Ayutthaya

“You could say New York City and it doesn’t really mean anything. When you say a word like Bangkok, in my mind it means something. There’s not a lot of cities where the world literally brings a picture to your mind.” – Todd Phillips

Todd Phillips saying are much represent our feelings about Bangkok. a 4-days and 3-nights stay in Bangkok might not be enough to discover all places and capture all beauties, but some (and sweaty) walks around the town and an outer bit of Bangkok did gave us little perspectives of how Bangkok people lives in the City of so many tourism place put together in one spot. Anywhere in the City there are visitors, and all the Temples are gold, porcelain-decorated, so picturesque they attract everyone’s eye.

This year, I’ve been lucky to visit this Land of Smiles again. My first visit was in 2011, when I attended IFLA-APR Conference. That time I was just an architecture student who didn’t know anything about landscape architecture, participating in the Design Charette for the sake of traveling abroad, with limited English vocabulary, trying hard to understand the topics and contribute something for my team. Anyway, the Conference went very well, I gained some new bestfriends, fell in love with friendly and humble people of Thai, and so does the City. It was so chaotic, yet it also had something so orderly and exotic. That time, i bet myself that I would miss this city and come again.

Later, it comes to the day when we are, a group of 20 people from Indonesian Society of Landscape Architect (IALI) West Java Region, got a chance to have a field trip to Thailand. The preparation begin since end of 2016, collecting information, deciding what time would be perfect, and which objects would be visited. Fortunately, the long and exhausting process of preparing the trip comes out equal with the result. Later i’ll tell some of which I supposed were the highlight of our trip.

Jim Thompson House Museum

A short visit to the Museum gave us a peek-view about Thai-style architecture, combined with universal sublimity and the spirit of time. Our guide lady explained how Jim Thompson’s devotion to Thailand made him stay after his service to the Army of World War II was over. He found the Thai silk hidden beauty and made it well-known by developing the first and biggest Thai silk company. His house was built next to a khlong (canal) and consists of some buildings, connected with tropical style garden. The buildings was built by teak wood, the floors are Italian granite, and anywhere in the house there are stone Buddha statues, wooden Buddhas, and fine China porcelains.

Jim Thompson House Museum

Jim Thompson House Museum

Jim Thompson House Museum

CU Chamchuri Park & Suan Luang Square

As the oldest and known state university in Thailand, Chulalongkorn University has contributed many things to the society and the country. To commemorate their 100 year anniversary, they tribute the new public park in the heart of Bangkok City, which designed was came from a public competition. The winner, a landscape company named LANDPROCESS developed the initial design, made the construction drawing, and also supervise the construction. The word “Chamchuri” means the “Rain Tree” (Albizia saman) and was made the name of the area because the trees were commonly found growing in this area. Later, Chamchuri Park also planted with the Rain Trees to ascertain its name.

CU Centennary Park

picture taken by Aldo Fernando

Our visit to Chamchuri Park was much helped by my friend Mr. Woratat Saruno (Piin) whom I know since IFLA-APR 2011. He told me about the park, that he designed and responsible for the construction. On the day of our visit, we met Ms. Kotchakorn Voraakhom, the founder of LANDPROCESS, whom she explained to us the detailed process and the design concept of the park.

Chulalongkorn University Centennary Park

Chulalongkorn University Centennary Park

The landscape was designed with the concept of “Urban Beauty”. the rainwater and stormwater is collected in the retention pond and recycled for watering. There are area for water filtration, using water-filtration plants and some materials such as stones and gravels to slow down the run-off. The main building consists of Museum and Exhibition Hall, designed with the concept “Architecture as Landscape”. The roof is slanted form of landscraper, creating an exhibition space below the biggest rooftop park in Bangkok, catching rainwater for retention pond.

The plants in the rooftop garden were selected with the type of native plants which could be commonly encountered and grow throughout the city. The slanted land towards the building entrance functioned as amphitheatre for performing art in front of the main entrance.

Chulalongkorn University Centennary Park

Chulalongkorn University Centennary Park

Chulalongkorn University Centennary Park

Chulalongkorn University Centennary Park

some pictures taken by Priska Ivena

Actually on that day was the day of students from Chulalongkorn University having a field study in the park. They’re accompanied by Professor Lersom Sthapitanonda and officers from Chula Property. the Professor also welcomed us to join the field study, listen to the explanation from the designer and having pictures together. We’d been very lucky to come in the right time and met the Professor and the Landscape Architect of the Park.

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After walking around the Park, Piin showed us some projects they also designed, located beside the CU Park, named Suanluang Square. There are rain garden as berm in the pedestrian way, planted with native trees and shrubs to create and connect the green area of the Park to the commercial area. The rain garden collecting rainwater and stormwater, and absorbing water to the ground. The Suanluang Square is a compound of shophouses. The new design keep the old structure, detached it from the facade and walls, created some new open space that visitor can take some rest while shopping. There are also water fountain where the kids love to play and installations from the old bicycle tyre painted with fancy colors located in the area of secondhand bicycle parts shop.

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Suanluang Square

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We ended that afternoon with inspired minds that the commemoration of golden age may not be celebrated with feast… They took a reflection about what can they give to the city, to the society, and what will happen in 100 years to come…

to be continued…

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