By SPECIAL TO THE NATION
As builders and city planners develop the city, attention needs to be given to the quality of life infrastructure, and plans needed to be made and implemented to ensure that there is a balance between the ever-increasing density of the built environment and the impact that it will have on the quality of life of the public.
This would include things like green space, safe and convenient pedestrian walkways, and regulations to ensure that Bangkok not only has world-class developments, but also the quality of life aspects that other leading global cities have created. Poor air quality, heat gain due to concrete and pavement surface areas, and pedestrian safety are all part of quality of life issues that we experience every day as a Bangkokian.
As the city becomes denser, traffic congestion will undoubtedly grow. Increasing regulations on both new and existing vehicle emissions can vastly improve the air quality of downtown Bangkok by reducing black smoke from old diesel vehicles and requiring the use of cleaning chemicals such as diesel exhaust fluid, as is currently done in Europe to help curb diesel emissions, among others.
As Bangkok’s mass transit system grows, people will begin walking more as they take the trains and continue their journey by foot.
We can take lessons from cities such as Japan, Hong Kong, or Singapore. Above ground and underground walkways provide a convenient and safe way for people to walk between mass transit lines.
The cities mentioned provide excellent examples of how public development initiatives have led to convenient and safe ways for people to move around without danger from vehicular traffic or as much pollution. More importantly, these walkways reduce the dependency on vehicles as people use trains to get to their destination areas.
Other developments that could ease central business district (CBD) congestion and create greater public convenience include micro-links like walking bridges that connect key areas with high volume traffic.
Another big part of creating a city with a high quality of life is ensuring that enough green space is planned to support the number of people living in the city.
Green space is needed for people to relax and exercise, crucial for the health and well-being of a city.
Green space is perhaps the most difficult to provide as it means using land for a non-revenue generating purpose and requires lot of maintenance.
Though with proper municipal planning, greenspace can be designed into city expansion. In downtown, land must be allocated where available.
One example of an ideal park location is the Tobacco Monopoly after it is relocated.
Turning the vacant space into a public park would greatly increase the per capita greenspace of Bangkok.
With a meagre average of around 5 square metres of green space per capita in Bangkok, this city is rated one of the lowest green areas per capita in the Asean region.
Global cities are increasingly the generators of wealth as the country moves from an agricultural and industrial-based economy to a service economy. Governments need to create healthy cites to ensure that they can attract and retain the best talent needed to drive the economy forward.
The private sector can provide world class developments with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and WELL certifications, but the government needs to provide a public environment of world-class standards.
Note: Writer By Aliwassa Pathnadabutr, Managing Director of CBRE Thailand