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Insights > Construction


Thammasat Urban Rooftop Farm – the largest urban rooftop farm in Asia – designed by Bangkok-based landscape architects Landprocess.


attack. He adds that land-clearing is used as an excuse not to make buildings fire-resilient.


“It just saddens me every time I come across another bureaucrat patting themselves on the back for achieving land clearing,” he says. “Just this week, one of the partners in a national project I'm working on was celebrating that he got approval from an Aboriginal organisation to clear their land to facilitate conventional house building. And that made me feel physically ill, that is what’s considered to be innovation in the year 2021.”


Architecture with resilience Following on from Glenn Murcutt, the celebrated Australian architect, Weir prefers to take a different tack – designing buildings that can withstand bushfire. His houses eschew tinder in


LEAF REVIEW / www.leading-architects.com


favour of materials like steel and fire- resistant hardwoods, and any feature that is specifically made for bushfire is given a role in the daily life of the house. “A few of my houses have bushfire protection screens that also provide sun control and insect control, meaning you have to use these features every day,” he says. “If there is an emergency, people know how to operate them, as it’s just embedded in their daily habits.” However, this is not merely about creating functional steel boxes. Weir is fascinated by what the aesthetics of bushfire design might turn out to be. At the moment, he is working on a permanent artwork that is designed to be burned, the firing process enhancing its appearance in the manner of Japanese raku pottery. “Bushfire is a catalyst for creativity,


and we need to think about how we can use bushfire as a trigger to develop a whole new typology of architecture,” he says.


4,000 miles to the northwest, in Bangkok, Thai landscape architect Kotchakorn Voraakhom is trying to figure out how to foster resilience against a very different kind of natural disaster. The city’s canal network, once extensive, has now been largely stoppered with concrete, a high-rise urban jungle sprawling on top. Concurrently, Bangkok has become more and more flooding-prone. Rainfall is intensifying, thanks to climate change, and there’s nowhere for the excess water to drain. By 2030, nearly 40% of this coastal city may be submerged every year, according to the World Bank. “Growing up, I used to see the rice


field next to my house and many other porous landscapes around the city, but now it’s all covered in concrete,” recalls Voraakhom, who is the CEO of social enterprise Porous City Network and founder of the urban design firm Landprocess. “Today, Bangkok ranks as one of the lowest per capita cities when it comes to green space.” Much like Weir, Voraakhom has taken her painful and formative experiences and turned them into a mission statement. Today, she designs parks, public spaces and gardens that bring some much-needed greenery to the city, at the same time as tackling the flooding problem.


Lessons from nature One notable project is the Chulalongkorn University Centennial Park in Bangkok, which as well as


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Landprocess


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