March 7, 2012
Water has great influences in our way of life since the beginning of time here in the region. Floods, flooding are nothing new. Just recently we forgot how to live with it.
Sumet Jumsai, a prominent architect of Thailand, writes a controversial book ‘Naga: Cultural Origins in Siam and West Pacific‘on how water shapes the so-called amphibian lives of people in the region. Although some parts of the book are slightly too fancy about water, it is rather inspiring.
Toyo Ito, a prominent architect, has made a very interesting observation on how we, people in Bangkok, live with water, from his boat ride trip:
“I recall a boat ride I once took on a canal in Bangkok and the impression made on me by the sight of people living on the water’s edge. The people had adapted successfully to their watery environment……… The people dwell like fish, their bodies steeped in water……… The water flowing about those people was overwhelming, and the space that enveloped them was extraordinarily humid.”
from Ito, Toyo, “The Transparent Urban Forest”, The Japan Architect, 1995-3 (Programming), Tokyo: Shinkenchiku-sha, 1995.
From 2011 floods, it seems that, really, we have forgotten completely how to “dwell” with water as Ito describes.
In 2010, floods damaged many cities in Thailand. Bangkok was somehow safe. However, we were quite alarming with the damage and danger caused by the water. Many architects and designers got together by TCDC discussing about floods and how designers could be part of the flood reliefs or preparations. As a result of the meeting, with Pim Sudhikam and Terdsak Techakijkachorn of Chulalongkorn University, we organized a summer workshop on “Watery Living” during June – August 2011, just right before floodings…