(Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Bangkok’s Thammasat University, one of the oldest in Thailand, has a new claim to fame: Asia’s largest urban rooftop farm.
The 7,000 sq mt (75,000 sq ft) space mimics rice terraces in northern Thailand and can help curb some of the impacts of climate change, such as frequent flooding, said Kotchakorn Voraakhom, the landscape architect behind the project.
“We tend to make a distinction between buildings and green spaces but green spaces can be part of building design in cities like Bangkok, which has few green spaces,” said Kotchakorn, the chief executive and founder of Landprocess.
“Rooftops are usually under utilized but they can be green spaces that reduce the urban heat-island effect, the environmental impacts of buildings and land use, and also feed people,” she said ahead of the farm’s opening on Tuesday.
Bangkok, built on the floodplains of the Chao Phraya River, is forecast by climate experts to sink by more than 1 centimeter (0.4 inches) annually and become one of the urban areas to be hit hardest by extreme weather conditions in the coming years.
Nearly 40% of the Thai capital may become flooded each year by 2030 due to more intense rainfall, according to the World Bank estimates.
Flooding in many parts of Bangkok is already common during the annual monsoon. The rains in 2011 brought the worst floods in decades, putting a fifth of the city under water.
It was after that disaster that Kotchakorn began thinking more about climate-resilient green spaces.