Bangkok / Schism in Water and Land Based Settlements
“Historic Map of Bangkok © 1914, University of Texas Libraries”
“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.
“Map of Land Use© 1968, The Australian National University”
“Map of Number of Vehicles in Peak Hour© 1968, The Australian National University”
“Map of First Revised Metroplolitan Plan© 1990, The Australian National University”
“Map of Massive Systems© 1990, The Australian National University”
“Map of Width of Roads© 1969, The Australian National University”
“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.