Cities and Urbanization

On the right track: How Bangkok turned an old unused train line into a park

A coffee pot filled with water acts as a lens to depict Lumpini Park in Bangkok August 26, 2009. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang  (THAILAND ODDLY CITYSCAPE TRAVEL) - GM1E58Q18W501

Currently, Bangkok has about 6 square metres of green space per person, but they plan to increase this to 9 square metres. Image: REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

Rina Chandran
Correspondent, Reuters
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Cities and Urbanization?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Cities and Urbanization is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Cities and Urbanization

  • An old railway line in Bangkok has been turned into a new park.
  • It's hoped the project will be a precedent for turning unused urban spaces in green areas, to boost well-being and mitigate the effects of climate change.
  • The Phra Pok Klao Sky Park in Bangkok is due to open in late June.

A new park in Thailand's capital - built on an abandoned train track - can be a model for turning the city's other unused spaces into much-needed green areas to boost well-being and mitigate climate-change impacts, urban experts said on Tuesday.

Have you read?

The Phra Pok Klao Sky Park in Bangkok, which is scheduled to open later this month, connects neighbourhoods on either side of the Chao Phraya river and was built on an elevated rail line that lay unused for more than three decades.

"It is an example of how to repurpose an abandoned structure and increase green spaces in Bangkok through cost-effective design," said Niramon Serisakul, director of Urban Design and Development Center, a consultancy that led the project.

"It may not be large, but it has outsized importance as a catalyst for urban regeneration, and can change the way people look at public spaces," she said.

Coronavirus Covid-19 virus infection China Hubei Wuhan contagion spread economics dow jones S&P 500 stock market crash 1929 depression great recession
Artist rendering of what the Phra Pok Klao Sky Park will look like. Image: Land Process Design

The lack of green spaces in Bangkok and other crowded cities has come under scrutiny as the coronavirus pandemic forced lockdowns worldwide, triggering a rush to parks for exercise and to improve well-being.

The health benefits are clear: city dwellers tend to live longer in leafy neighbourhoods, according to a study last year by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health.

Bangkok, built on the floodplains of the Chao Phraya River, is also forecast by climate experts to be an urban area that will be hardest hit by extreme weather conditions in the coming years.

Flooding is already common during the monsoon season, but nearly 40% of the city could become flooded each year by 2030 due to more intense rainfall, according to World Bank estimates.

"The effects of climate change are being felt more, so we need more green spaces," Asawin Kwanmuang, governor of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, said at a ceremony to plant trees ahead of the park's opening.

"Our goal is to increase green space in Bangkok from about 6 square metres (65 sq ft) per person to 9 square metres per person. At the same time, we want to reduce the number of cars and make the city more walkable," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The park, measuring 280 metres by 8 metres, makes it easier for residents to access nearby schools, markets and places of worship, said Niramon.

The goal is to replicate Paris's "15-minute city", where people can reach their destination within 15 minutes of walking, cycling or using mass transit, she said.

Across Asia's space-starved cities, developers and planners are increasingly turning to so-called "dead land" underneath bridges, flyovers and viaducts.

Bangkok's new sky park can be a model for swathes of unused land under the city's expressways, said landscape architect Kotchakorn Voraakhom, who was involved in the project.

Parks and rooftop gardens can reduce air pollution and harmful emissions, and also limit flooding, said Kotchakorn, who has designed a rooftop farm and park that can retain water.

"With the sky park we have shown it is possible to create green spaces from existing structures that can be valuable in fighting climate change," she said.

Loading...
Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Cities and UrbanizationClimate Change
Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

The cost of rebuilding Ukraine, and other urban transformation stories you need to read

Lisa Chamberlain

February 22, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum