Decoding Design

In Thailand, finding refuge in concrete viaduct

In Thailand, finding refuge in concrete viaduct

Posting in Architecture

A makeshift community rises out of a flooded neighborhood of Bangkok.

Prefabricated, concrete shells meant to form part of Bangkok's elevated skyway now serve as refuge for dozens of Thai residents, displaced by floods that have affected about a third of the country's population. Liz Neisloss spotlights the makeshift community in a video report for CNN.

The company that owns the concrete structures is allowing the residents to use them for homes and also tap into electricity. So the residents have access to power for lights, refrigerators, and televisions.

After first fleeing their houses and then flooded government shelters, the residents are content with the safe, dry spaces (about 85 square feet in the voids of the shells) that allow them to be with their families, their most prized possessions, and their pets.

Residents said they have chosen to stay in the cement confines rather than move into government shelters because they have more space and can keep an eye on their valuables. And, more importantly, because they are with their community. And so, in the chaos that has accompanied the floods, there is the comfort of familiar faces.

The ad hoc neighborhood is an unconventional but effective solution to the parallel problems of empty construction projects and the dire need for shelter after a natural disaster.

Prefab shells offer makeshift shelter for flooded Thais [CNN]
Related in SmartPlanet:
In Bangkok, floods expose lacking urban resilience
Solving sanitation with simple architectural design
Shipping container architecture delivers relief in Japan

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Sun Kim

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Sun Joo Kim is an architect and creative consultant based in Boston. Her projects include design and master planning of museums, public institutions, hospitals, and university buildings across the U.S. She holds a degree from Carnegie Mellon University and is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure