Contemporary Orchard Communities : A Counterproposal for Bang Prathun
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The hydro-agricultural complex of the Chao Praya river delta has been heavily compromised and reduced through rapid and expansive urbanization over the last fifty years. This is reflected in the changes in Bangkok’s urban vernacular. While the historical local settlement typology accommodates and harvests the water excess of the monsoon cycles, the introduced contemporary residential typologies have rigid, socially fragmenting, and climatically inappropriate designs. The canal and orchard community exemplifies a settlement type characteristic of the Chao Praya river's west bank. This urban area is now being redeveloped into Western-style single family home tracts, and the Bang Prathun canal, too, is facing this scenario. This diploma project formulates a counterproposal to a projected development which will irreversibly destroy the historical Bang Prathun canal settlement’s structure and the cultural landscape of fruit orchards in which it is embedded. Can an alternative residential typology accommodate and thus preserve the agricultural landscape? Can the agricultural landscape, in its traditional form, be integrated as both recreational and productive area within a contemporary residential development? The project formulates two nested proposals: a Planning Strategy, which observes the historical footprint of the canal network, and a Housing Typology, which serves as a catalyst to fuse together, and revitalize the image of, the vernacular orchard typology and a contemporary housing project. The aim is to sustain the settlement’s original structure while making space for a contemporary dwelling, and to conserve the orchard as an important component of the infrastructural network of green spaces as floodwater absorbers, which in today’s Bangkok are critically few and far between.