“LUNG OF BANGKOK”
Situated in one of the most prominent “Urban Oasis of Asia”, Betagro Bangkrachao proposed to transform existing fodder factory into a model for green factory which engages public uses and promote co-existence relationship between local community and industrial ground. By integrating a part of the active factory with new spaces for learning, the proposal aimed to generate a common ground to collect local wisdom in natural conservation, agricultural know-how, and knowledge in product quality enhancement. With emphasis on public engagement and participatory processes, the proposal looked to inspire Bangkrachao community and generate economic, social and cultural values as part of taking action for the corporate social responsibility.
Context and Scope: A Model for Green Factory
Among in the lush green area of Bangkrachao which is often referred to as “Lung of Bangkok”, Betagro Group’s initial animal feed production factory, established in 1967, located right on the road which is the most critical access to the 12,000 rai of the jungle in between the oxbow curve of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya river. The area is recognized as “the Best Urban Oasis” By Time Magazine Asia in 2006 and has been regulated since 1977 under government developmental plan as the green zone, mainly subjected to agricultural land uses with small limitation to building area and types of land use which prohibited any new industrial land use. In early 2017, the landscape architects were commissioned by Betagro Group to design spaces for public
education and recreation on their existing factory. Under initiatives set by the Precedent/CEO of Betagro Group to commemorate their 50th anniversary, the fodder factory would be transformed into a place that suits sustainable learning environment with integration of both corporate function and for the public goods.
Design Intent: A Factory Campus
The unique location of the existing factory lends this project a potential to help promote the significance of Bangkrachao as a sustainable green area, not only for Bangkok Metropolitan Region and Samuthprakarn Province, but globally. The design intent suggests for Betagro Group’s strategy to create a positive environmental impact while generating beneficial value for the society and gaining different ranges of public agreement from the local community to the wider public exposure. Aimed to create a common ground for learning sustainable model, raising environmental concerns, and collecting local agricultural and industrial production knowhow, the transformation of the old factory would be for the young generation, people in the local community and tourists to learn and enjoy together. The proposal also looked into improvement for production efficiency as well as improvement to the quality of lives for the working staff aiming to raise the bar as a green prototype model for other Betagro’s factories to implement after.
Through analysis and evaluation of existing factory condition, the observation showed some existing space are no longer in use and left vacant while other occupied spaces can be improve with better planning in management system. The design proposed series of spatial and programmatic enhancement responding to each different conditions of the particular site. It looked for possibilities to create spaces that would improve the quality of lives for the both visitors and factory workers, and injecting lives and new programs into the existing structures without disrupting the industrial functions.
- Vertical Playground and green tunnel street: The front area of the site adjacent to the public road is the image for the company profile. The proposal took a step beyond and proposed for an enhancement of streetscape with green tunnel covering by the canopy of big trees, creating an impact to welcome the visitor to Bangkrachao area. The fence would become the new face of the factory as well as a playscape that engages urban activities for everyone.
- Betagro learning center and museum: The vacant office building would be turned into a community center with library, coffee shop, meeting plaza and co-learning space. These programs tailored to support the needs for local people, factory workers as well as serving as the tourist information center.
- Sports & Parking: Proposed addition sport field above the existing parking lot would provide a place for the staff a place for to stay fit right on their work place.
- The adventure tower: Proposed for renovation at the top of existing silos tower to be view deck observing Chao Phraya and Bangkrachao in oxbow curve from at the focal point and addition of safe walkway leading to the top.
- Green local wisdom terrace: By raising a structure, 6 meter in height, above the existing on-ground concrete pavement parking system, the new sky roof could become an integrated community plaza with area for communal market places and agricultural plots collecting and displaying local plants and rare species. The Green wisdom terrace could draw in tourists to enjoy a new perspective to Chao Phraya River, create a place supporting community economy through local involvement in operational process, and be a library for local agricultural wisdom, while also being able to function as the factory logistic parking lots with more efficiently planned system.
- The river front trail: The back boundary of the site lies along Chao Phraya bank. The observation of the area showed traces of uncontrolled erosion. The proposal looked to turn this into the Erosion Control Study and Research area experimenting the implement native plant species – Ton Chak or Nypa Fruticans — to help control the erosion process from the river. The river front design incorporates natural trail and cycling path for education and recreation uses accessible for everyone. This would become a prototype for the proposed connective promenade along Chao Phraya bank in Bangkrachao area.
- Factory leaning tube: To promote better understanding in industrial standard of quality control and factory environment, an observatory bridge would lead the way right though the factory building, giving a close glimpse to environment in the factory for the visitors.
- Visitor parking: The design proposed to rent abandoned warehouse opposite to the site for parking spaces for the visitors. The increased number of parking spaces from the visitors would be sufficiently provided with easy access and pleasantly shady quality by planting more trees and without having to build more parking lot on the site.
Plan for future implementation
The proposal received approval in principle and development scheme from the Betagro Group. The plan for the next step, agreed by both owner and designer, would be to carry out a public hearing process to engage the local community and Betagro staff in order to further develop suitable design question and preliminary for each proposed area. These processes are to be carried out in two ways:
- Focus group discussion to gather opinion and ideas from the related stakeholders for preliminary planning and design objectives
- Workshops to brainstorm opinion and ideas on objective, desired value, and functional needs to support and develop detail design for each area
The design development process would be carried further when each and every stakeholder has agreed on the collective vision.
|Samut Prakan Province,Thailand
|Analysis and Master Planning