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Insights > Construction


Apex Point House (pictured) is a bushfire-resilient house on the Tasman Peninsula with an exposed steel frame structure, designed by Dr Ian Weir.


being spectacularly lush and verdant, functions as a kaem ling (monkey cheek) water retention zone. During floods, it can hold nearly a million gallons of water in its storage system, which is released after the flooding has subsided. (The kaem ling metaphor comes from the late Thai monarch King Bhumibol, who believed Bangkok should be able to store floodwater, just as a monkey stores food in its cheeks.) She has also created Asia’s largest rooftop farm at Thammasat University, which is part traditional rice terrace and part modern green roof technology. It’s important, she thinks, to pay heed to indigenous wisdom when solving contemporary problems. This might mean restoring the canals, reviving the rice fields – creating green space where possible. “When you talk about climate change, it’s not like you have a set


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of solutions and you can just apply a copy and paste with each project – you really have to understand the context of each site,” says Voraakhom. “It’s about understanding the seasonal change and how the landscape functions.” Both Voraakhom and Weir, if not exactly voices in the wilderness, are unusual in their willingness to look


challenges we’re having right now,” says Voraakhom. “There are so many people who need good design, like those who live in informal settlements or those who are displaced from climate change – they’re not your direct clients but you can work with governments to come up with a solution for them.”


don't get the design innovation,” he says. “Architects need to have more imagination, more assertiveness, and elbow their way in, so that we don’t have planners designing us out of out of the whole opportunity to innovate. Right across the board internationally, conventional houses just keep getting built and the disasters just continue.”


“THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE WHO NEED GOOD DESIGN, LIKE THOSE WHO LIVE IN INFORMAL SETTLEMENTS.” KOTCHAKORN VORAAKHOM


at climate change face on. So what do they think about the architectural profession in general? Does it need to build around climate disaster, rather than trying to forestall it?


“Our design education teaches us to sell to the private sector, to use marble from Italy and China – it’s really not relevant to the set of


Weir remarks that the architectural profession is often very passive and tends to do what it’s told. He thinks architects need fight harder for the positions they hold.


“Climate disaster is considered a planning problem – planners come in and say, well, people aren’t going to live in those areas anymore, so we


Climate grief is a very real phenomenon, and as with any grief, it probably comes in stages. However, for those like Weir and Voraakhom who have already witnessed fire and floods, there is nothing to be gained through planting their feet in the denial stage. It is time to move on towards acceptance.


LEAF REVIEW / www.leading-architects.com


Andrew Scott


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