- By BK staff
- | Nov 26, 2010
7. The Green Library
A collaboration project between the BMA and HSBC Thailand, this new library aims to be the most environmentally friendly public library in Asia and the first to be granted the Platinum certificate, the highest certificate in green building standards granted by the Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) in America. It will be located in the Queen’s 60th Birthday Park in the Rom Klao community, Lad Krabang, and aims to be a learning hub for the local neighborhood, while acting as a prototype for people to study how they can save energy in their everyday life. After completion, the BMA will administrate this green space.
Verdict: We hope that the BMA will follow through on their commitment and really make the place a learning hub, not just another white elephant that is underused and left to rot.
WHERE: The Queen’s 60th Birthday Park in Rom Klao, Ladkrabang district
HOW MUCH?: B30 million
WHEN?: Dec 2010
8. BMA Office
The city’s corridors of power are on the move, as the BMA has outgrown its old home at City Hall. This mega-project sees them leave the old town and head to a new purpose-built property in Din Daeng. The new City Hall, dubbed the Bangkok City Tower, will occupy a total of 380,000 sq meters and consist of three 27 to 37-story-high towers, an assembly hall for the councilors to meet, a glass-covered plaza and a parking building to contain all the civil servants’ BMWs. Once they do move offices, the plan is to convert the former City Hall on Dinso Road into a museum and library that focuses on the history and culture of the city.
Verdict: The new buildings have turned into a bit of a bottomless money pit. Costs have spiraled out of control and deadlines have regularly been missed: all the hallmarks of the BMA at its worst.
WHERE: Mitmaitree Road, Din Daeng
HOW MUCH?: B8 million
9. Skywalk across the Chao pHraya
Another sky walk project, and another project to honor the 84th birthday of His Majesty next year. This one will allow us all to stroll across the Chao Phraya River, without having to get our feet wet. The pedestrian bridge will stretch between Tha Prachan and Wang Lang Piers, next to Siriraj Hospital. The sky walk will be 10m wide, 300m long and will be 5.50 meters (or two stories) above the river. The BMA clearly know their citizens, though, as this is no normal footbridge; there will be fast lane slides, elevators, and even air-conditioning!
Verdict: We think it’s a great idea and a great way to try and refocus the city on the river, something that many leading capitals around the world have done so successfully. Still, a billion baht is a hefty price tag for a bridge.
WHERE: Thaprachan to Wang Lang Pier, across Chao Phraya River
HOW MUCH?: B800 million to 1 billion
WHEN?: Construction 2011 (if approved). Completion 2013.
10. Downtown Skywalks
The private sector, in the form of the Ratchaprasong Square Trade Association (RSTA), has plans to build the mother of all pedestrian bridges. When completed it will connect CentralWorld to Pratunam, then turn left down Petchaburi Rd., and run all the way to Ratchathewi BTS Station. Perhaps spurred on by this, the BMA has also decided to move forward on their plan to build three kilometers of skywalk connecting Siam to Victory Monument. The walkway will be situated in the space underneath the BTS line and pass via Siam, Ratchathewi, Phayathai and Victory Monument stations and also connect to the airport link station at Phayathai. There also three additional extension skywalks in the pipeline: from Wongwian Yai to Taksin bridge; from Ramkhamhaeng intersection to Hua Mak Stadium (where it will connect to a new proposed monorail from Thong Lor-Hua Mak Stadium, and, finally the most ambitious of all, an eight-kilometer stretch from Chitlom to Bang Na.
Verdict: These areas are plagued by roads too large and too dangerous to cross on foot. If these projects include some sort of green element a la New York High Line (see page 12), they will be an improvement. Of course, we would prefer pedestrian solutions that allow us to walk on the streets.
WHERE: All over Bangkok but mainly on the Sukhumvit Line and Victory Monument to Siam.
HOW MUCH?: B3.3 billion
WHEN?: Dream on.
11. New Bridge to the New Parliament
The new parliament building on Samsen Rd., on the banks of the Chao Phraya and due to complete in 2014, is a mega project in itself but one the government is responsible for, so we won’t waste time here commenting on how ugly and expensive we think it is. Instead, we’ll focus on the related mega project to build a new bridge to connect the area to nearby expressways and the other side of the river. The initial proposal was rejected by the government who complained that it would spoil their lovely views. The government then proposed alternative plans to build tunnels or bridges on Keawkaika Rd., or in the Bang Po area. The BMA pointed out that these alternative plans would create additional traffic, require more people to relocate not to mention cost a lot more. The plan for the tunnel was over three times more expensive and would affect 1,000 homes compared to 200 houses in the original plan. That’s before we get into the difficulties of constructing a tunnel in the swampy soil under the Chao Phraya River.
Verdict: To our untrained eye it seems obvious that sticking to the BMA’s original plan is the most sensible solution. But we’re talking politics here so that’s probably the one solution that will never happen.
WHERE: From the express way at Rama 9 to Taling Chan, with an offshoot running to Kiak Kaay intersection.
HOW MUCH?: B12 billion
WHEN?: This could take a decade.