Bangkok / Schism in Water and Land Based Settlements

Bangkok in the 1914 by Verlag von Karl Baedeker when in the first contact with the European influence, that upturned the nation into a self-coloinzed state from its original aquatic living condition.

“Historic Map of Bangkok © 1914, University of Texas Libraries”

The central district has a well intensively planned networks and routes for the earliest user- the wealthy classes to access throughout the city by vehicles. The age of fossil fuel was introduced after the urban transformation of European style from its nationalistic livelihood.

“Map of Rattanakosin island © 1910, University of Texas Libraries”

The research focus of our city – Bangkok is to explore its nationalism after years of self-colonization through the urban form’s development. It is interesting to re-capture the traces of European influences on Bangkok, a city that had never been formally colonized, yet with the monarchic elites and rich welcoming and developing the city’s fate in the footsteps of Western models. Since the era of Rama IV (1851), the city of water began to transform into a fragmented nation of different urban languages, directing the city’s growth from its environmental aquatic settlement to the first permanent land transformation.

The two maps above were recorded in the years of 1914, the time when the schism in settlements began. The intricate network was originally a continuous fluidity flowed throughout the khlongs (the thai canals), with people bounded in a collective form livelihood on water, which could respond sensitively to the seasonal swelling with their irrigation drainage and amphibious typology. The European influence soon took over the natural commute systems, and sprawled into the urban core plannings, both the city image and the government monarchy are re-galvanized. This divided a split in the nation’s system of resources suggested by the classes division, with the upper classes in the closest contact with intensively planned road network, that could not be extended in a coherent condition towards the rural, resulted in the rural continuing the water-based settlement with the inner core transporting on land. The leftover undefined land between the outer and inner ring became the residue land, that was seen as the gap and cracks of concrete superblocks in the later years of Americanization.


Land Use in 1968 to understand the Western imperialism in Bangkok.

“Map of Land Use© 1968, The Australian National University”

Number of Vehicles in Peak hour in the 1968

“Map of Number of Vehicles in Peak Hour© 1968, The Australian National University”

Government began to plan massive transit for the greater population with metropolitan plan in the 1990.

“Map of First Revised Metroplolitan Plan© 1990, The Australian National University”

Different category of roadway systems found in the time of 1990

“Map of Massive Systems© 1990, The Australian National University”

Width of Roads in Bangkok 1969

“Map of Width of Roads© 1969, The Australian National University”

Ten Year Roadway Programme Mapping to show the advocacy in the government to transform the city in a perfect land-based settlement nation without appropriate addresses to its geographical phenomenon – the seasonal swelling into the city.

“Map of Ten Years Roadway Programme© 1972, The Australian National University”

The superblocks defined the grouping of the Bangkok city, for its spatial fragmentation along the corridors of foul khlongs and road systems became interstices space for lower classes to move in and out temporarily. The earlier planned road system became a hindrance in the growing city, as the land system was planned in the learning of water-based irrigation system. The traffic could not be resolved during peak hours, since it was designed intentionally for paddle boats transportation and short distance connections in between community. However, the root-like sprawling network, forced traffic to gather in the central core away from the dead ends roads, leading serious traffic network in the urban. The lost of translation from water to land settlement became a problematic joint to the urban form of the city development, and the maps above were on documentation of the width of road systems to resolve the heated conditions of the citizen. And after years of refilling the canal with permanent state of concrete construction, the origin of Bangkok city image could hardly be interpreted in the present developing sequence and pace.



ANDRE, Sorensen. (2011) Megacities: Urban Form. Governance, and Sustainability. 1st Ed. London: Springer.

2 Comments on “Bangkok / Schism in Water and Land Based Settlements

  1. In the quest to turn waterways into roadways, has it simply been a matter of filling in the canals with concrete and occupying them? Presumably the waterways have a more organic and inefficient form than a city planner would like – has there been a conscious effort to alter the shape of the transport network and create a more rigid grid?

    • Can anything be moved or done nowadays in such a densely populated area? Now that so many things have been established, the reestablishment of road networking system may no longer be possible. Even if there has been an effort to alter, it may not a huge influence and when there is a huge influence, people will not be happy as it affect their daily lives. Government in other countries only seem to creating restriction so called “solutions” which only relief minor congestions but does not actually solves them physically.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.