August 13, 2014 01:00 By Thanapat Kitjakosol
The Ratchaprasong shopping district will become a model of public space development offering convenient access to all people, especially seniors and the handicapped.
The “Siyaek Jaidee” project for the 220-metre Chid Lom-Ratchapra-song strip will be proposed to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administra-tion by the Association of Siamese Architects under Royal Patronage, Thai Health Promotion Foundation and others.
Pol Lt-Colonel Bundit Pradab-sook, vice president of the Associa-tion of Siamese Architects, said yesterday that most intersections and footpaths were not in a good condition. Some footpaths were narrower than the 1.5-metre standard, were not wheelchair accessible, had an uneven surface or were blocked by phone booths or stalls.
The project could be implemented by the end of next year, just in time for the Asean Economic Community, and would be in line with the public policy to improve access for the disabled, elderly, children and pregnant women, he added.
Kotchakorn Vora-akom, the project’s landscape architect, said streets, reflecting the city’s image, should be “green”, provide access to all and be full of the city’s stories.
The project hopes to promote a “design for all” concept in the related professions’ teaching process and a standard for public building designs and transportation systems to cater to people’s needs and garner their support, she said.
The “universal design” process would take five steps:
l Removing objects such as broken booths, unnecessary or blocking structures;
l Allocating 1.5-metre-wide space of the 4m-wide space for walking;
l Adjusting footpath ramps to be lower and less steep;
l Putting up horizontal and vertical plants to provide cover and functionality;
l Adjusting stalls to be in line with the city’s atmosphere.
Sirikiat Liangkobkij, director of ThaiHealth’s Health Risk Control Office, said more than half of the population live in cities, so it is important to support urbanisation and people, especially the disabled, elderly and children. “From our survey, most pedestrians and vendors back the plan,” he said.
It is time to do this project after people had been violating public space regulations for far too long.
Prapaporn Channuan, head of the Land Readjustment and Urban Renewal Division of the BMA City Planning Department, said senior citizens were expected to account for a quarter of society in 20 years, so there will be lots of elderly people. The project would come in handy as a proactive measure for them.
After city executives decide on the project, agencies would then begin implementing it, which could involve a working panel of the private sector and landlords for the area’s sustainable management and maintenance.
Pol Lt-Colonel Pisanu Prasartthong-osot from the Ratchaprasong Community said the project would enhance equality and set an example for safe, convenient streets, so the community was willing to back it and participate in it.