Ashton Asoke Rama9 is a derelict space of old commercial buildings and parking lot repurposed into a new iconic residential mix-used high-rise found in Bangkok’s new CBD, that appropriately links the landscape with the city context. This private residential project offers the Shared-Green Spaces approach to residents therefore adding a new public green space to the city.
The “O” Plaza as a landscape space, is a new paradigm of an urban green infrastructure articulating theory with aesthetics of landscape design appropriately.
The Green Pause concept will improve water management by collecting stormwater runoff and pausing it for treatment. Moreover, here the visitors can pause from their busyness and enjoy nature. The outdoor circular rooms, taking into consideration social distancing in public spaces, with soothing sounds of the greenery and water cascades, provide relaxation in the urban rain garden forest.
The Ashton Asoke Rama 9, while alleviating the city’s environmental challenges, as an iconic merge of design aesthetics and the function of green infrastructure, harmoniously improves living standards for humans and other organisms.
Urbanism Challenges and Site context
Ashton Asoke Rama9 is located at the Rama9 intersection, one of the most hustling areas in Bangkok Metropolitan. Rapid and uncontrolled urban growth has brought challenges pertaining to the deterioration of urban environments and urban quality of life. The district has faced serious issues of insufficient public green spaces and loss of canal networks that lead to several environmental problems such as inland flooding, air pollution and urban heat impact. In fact, Dindang is on the top list of the district with an absence of green space with only 1.96 Sq.m./Person, About 7 Sq.m./Person below WHO’s minimum standard.
Prior to the development, the site’s condition was all covered by concrete paving to serve commercial buildings as parking lots with two giant Ficus trees as the only green remnants on the site. Moreover, during a survey process, the landscape team unveiled a part of the old canal that once appeared on the site. Even though the canal had been forgotten and disconnected from the system; this environmentally-sensitive landscape needed to be considered carefully. Therefore, the landscape team in collaboration with clients, engineers and BMA (Bangkok Metropolitan Administration) proposed the idea to bring back this disconnected canal and apply the function to collect the project’s stormwater runoff and allow excess water from the surrounding areas to be stored during heavy rains. This would help mitigate the city’s inland flooding problems.
As part of being a new development, the overall site base level needed to be altered with reference to the city’s infrastructure grade which meant that the design team planned to raise the site level where necessary, and let the landscape spaces remain at existing grade to save construction cost, and allow the lower grading level to act as green infrastructure that collect and restore the site’s stormwater runoff.
Landscape design concept
The project values the essentiality of green spaces that enhance urban quality of living and improve urban settings. In response to the absence of city’s green spaces, this private residential project offers the Shared-Green Spaces approach that welcomes public access to the outdoor landscape areas and retails. Not only adding a new landscape corner for public use but it also provides ecological functions to mitigate the city’s environmental problems.
The landscape team envisioned this landscape space as a new paradigm of an urban green infrastructure that articulates the theory with aesthetics of landscape design and appropriately applies it to the site context. The Green Pause concept is proposed to tackle inland flooding and water management problems. This concept allows the project’s stormwater runoff to pause and get treated within the site. Water will be re-stored and reused, while some portions of water naturally infiltrate to the ground. Moreover, it also welcomes visitors to take a pause from their hectic urban lives and enjoy being in nature.
During the design process, the landscape team sought for the most suitable landscape gestures to facilitate the concept and site context. After exploring, the team chose to develop the circular form. A round surface, cylindrical in shape, is proven to use less surface area to hold the most amount of water in comparison to other forms. Furthermore, a circle is an abstract form of nature that represents infinite, unity and harmony. Without starting and ending points, the circular form attracts and welcomes visitors’ attention and also efficiently receives water flow from all directions.
The “O” Plaza
The “O” Plaza is located at the corner of an intersection of the main landscape area. The landscape team paid great attention to develop proper composition and comfortable dimension of circular spaces. The designer cautiously placed the location of each circular center which first correlate with the two buildings’ axes, which in turn maximizes the circular spaces to create a variety size of the outdoor rooms. These rooms are connected with a permeable curved path that continuously follows along the circle’s periphery. To create an intimate and immersive natural atmosphere, the landscape team intends to provide the unique “O” seating inside the central space of each room that is surrounded by rain garden forest and green infrastructure. The “O” seating’s center is shifted away from the room’s center to expand the green scenery as the visitors get inside. Within each room, there are steps that lead to the ground floor of the rain garden, where the visitors can get a closer observation to the rain garden, learning plant materials and exploring the animal’s habitat.
Thanks to the distance between each room, it promotes social distancing in public spaces that prepare visitors to safely occupy the room and enjoy the new norm while relaxing under urban rain garden forest and listening to soothing sounds of the green infrastructure’s water cascades.
Sustainable water management and ecological impact
In terms of sustainable water management, the landscape team integrated water management systems into the landscape design. Runoff water from the internal hardscapes will flow through the sloped curb to the series of water cascading of the “O” Plaza. The water will be treated by adding oxygen as it flows down the steps and those small particles to gravitate at the bottom. At the lowest level, water will be collected and stored underground for the purpose of irrigation. During the rainy season, excess water from the storage tanks will flow to the Green ditch (former canal), and this place also allows the excess water from the main street to collect during heavy rains.
At the center of each circular room lies the rain garden forest where water will be collected and naturally infiltrate the ground. The landscape team carefully selected native water-tolerant plant materials with high carbon absorption ability such as Erythrina variegata, Neomarica longifolia, and Sphagneticola trilobata. The team intended to create rain garden forest by combining planting layers of trees’ canopy, shrubs and ground covers in addition to help the city’s air and noise pollution reduction.
Apart from ground floor green spaces, this project also provides the Green Stack Gardens that utilize the areas of building setback by turning them into a green roof. These gardens offer visual and physical connection of the interior and the exterior, complimenting the building’s concept of “All corner window units”, and add more functional spaces for the residents. At the sky lounge, the project offers two floors, both towers, for public amenities such as swimming pool, outdoor sunken court, fitness and co-working spaces. As highlighted landscape spaces, infinity edged- double panoramic pools are 6-meters extended out into the sky from the two buildings. To break the typical swimming pool deck, the landscape team added a gimmick to the pool area by proposing the sky platform that elongates over the pool, out into the air. This sky platform is a special feature that offers breathtaking panoramic view and a flexible space which can turn into a stage to facilitate events.
The landscape team aims to promote this project as a prototype of the new urban development, especially in the dense urban areas facing several challenges and limitations. Ashton Asoke Rama 9 demonstrates the implementation of landscape design’s aesthetic and function of green infrastructure to mitigate the city’s environmental problems. This small landscape intervention will become an efficient tool to enhance the living quality of people and natural living organisms. As imagined, with this kind of small scale yet innovative landscapes being established and expanded throughout the city, together they will soon create a great impact to save the city and our world in the near future.
Location: RamaIV intersection, Bangkok, Thailand
Completed year: 2020
Landscape Design: TROP: terrains + open space
Design Director: Pok Kobkongsanti
Landscape Designer: Thongchai Sinsansiri, Paisit Viratigul, Praditlertsakul
Construction Supervisor: Kampon Prakobsajjakul
Client – Ananda Development Public Company Limited
Architect: Architect49 Limited
Softscape Contractor – 19th Landscape Company Limited
Photo credit: Rungkit Charoenwat