Bangkok (1960-1970) / Litchfield Plan: Vision and Progress

The Litchfield plan is the first comprehensive and rationalised urban development plan proposed for the Bangkok and Thonburi region.  It marked the commencement of modern planning efforts to control growth (as opposed to continuing ad hoc development led by independent agencies) and brought other plans in the coming decades into perspective.

The Plan itself was first proposed in 1961, envisioning a land-use plan in light of issues such as population explosion and traffic congestions.  It laid out zoning proposals for residential, commercial and recreational facilities and emphasised improvements on the road system, specifically creation of a ring road around the Centre of Bangkok with multi-level intersections as well as an improved bus system.  The proposal featured “blocks of different uses are separated by access ways and designed to produce a pleasant mosaic-like structure able to accommodate comfortably four and a half million people, attendant facilities and anticipated industrial growth to 1990. “(Sternstein)

In many ways, this plan truly kick-started the process of urban planning in Bangkok.  First, it recognised the bureaucratic causes behind the resistance to planning in Bangkok and proposed also a document on budget issues and called for an alliance of administrative forces to control the explosive growth of the city itself.  Second, it yielded the first urban map of Bangkok after extensive surveys, researches and liaison with local agencies, providing the very basis of planning – a map.  (Sternstein) Third, it raised awareness within main actors of the urban development process by providing evidence behind specific development attempts (albeit being forsaken once it goes against the interest of the developers).  Fourth, it spiked discussions on true Thai planning – questioning the relevance and efficacy of western (in this case American) modes of planning given Thailand’s unique sociopolitical and cultural context.




Larry Sternstein, 1971, Planning the Developing Primate City: Bangkok 2000, Australian National University

Larry Sternstein, 1982, Portrait of Bangkok, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.

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