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Flow or Fence: Learning, Preserving, and Redefining the Riverfront Cultural Landscape

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Document pages: 13 pages

Abstract: The Chao Phraya River and the network of canals or “klongs” are the origin of Bangkok’s nick-name “Venice of the East”. Its amphibian nature of lower delta area where used to be covered by the sea around 5000 years ago provides a water-based settlement for the citizens. Rivers as an agricultural irrigation system are also used for daily consumption, transportation, and drainage channels. Bangkok was established in 1782 as the capital of Thailand by King Rama I of the Chakri Dynasty. The location is on a flood plain delta of the Chao Phraya River with the same consideration as the up north old capital Ayutthaya; the river is performed as a natural defense against enemies and also provides a water-based settlement for the citizens. The worst flood in Thailand’s history occurred during the 2011 monsoon season; July to November; that became the severest flood disaster hit parts of the capital city of Bangkok and resulted in a total of 815 deaths and 65 of Thailand’s 77 provinces were declared flood disaster zones, and over 20,000 square kilometers (7700 square miles) of farmland was damaged. The most affected areas were the recent capital Bangkok and the old capital Ayutthaya. The major causes were not only from the natural disaster but also water management failures from the human disaster. The studies aimed to include the survey of after-flood areas, reviewing the history of the waterfront communities and their attitudes toward development and changes, then discussed threats and crisis to the cultural landscape, the cause and effects of the disaster, the theoretical framework of the best management practices and the resolutions models proposed by the involved authorities. Whilst, history also gives us a sense of identity and traditional wisdom, the paper tried to find a paradigm shift and invented best practices for future generation flood protection using “the meaning and spirit of cultural landscape” model.

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