The Thammasat University Rooftop Farm, designed by Landprocess, overseen by landscape architect Kotchakorn Voraakhom, International ASLA, is a 1.7-acre rooftop farm in Bangkok, Thailand, widely considered an example of sustainable multi-use infrastructure.

This infrastructure, created via an integrated design approach involving building designers, landscape architects and engineers, is meant to address issues like climate change, flooding, pollution, and a lack of access to high-quality fresh produce.

Voraakhom worked with architectural and engineering teams to connect the greenspace surrounding the campus building with its rooftop green space for optimum impact.

For Voraakhom, the $31 million project does not leave landscape architecture as an afterthought, but considers it a primary design consideration—for the good of the climate and the environment.

Integrated design empowered the design and engineering team to resolve challenges as a team. To address the large quantity of rainwater that falls on Bangkok, causing floods, the rooftop farm employs structure and gravity to cascade rainwater down every level.

Landprocess explains that, as rainwater descends down the slopes, every level harvests runoff from the preceding cell, formulating different clusters of micro-watersheds along the terrace to absorb, filter, and purify water while growing sustenance for students.

The structure slows water 20 times more effectively than a traditional roof, and run-off is confined in four retention ponds at the structure’s feet, which can contain up to 3,095,570 gallons of water.

To remedy the issue of the lack of regional availability to healthful organic foods, the design team designed a fertile rooftop landscape. To soak up the water, Voraakhom’s company planted almost 50 varieties of consumable species, such as rice, indigenous vegetables and herbs, and fruit trees.

Growing are Jamaican Cherry, White Cheesewood, Camphor, Red Sandalwood, and Ceylon Oak trees, intermingled with azaleas, lemongrass, holy basil, amaranth, rice, and okra. Rows of dill, Thai eggplant, red and green oak-leaf lettuce, green roselle also grow alongside bird’s eye chili peppers.

In the wake of a seasonal harvest, the team found that the roof can grow 20 tons of organic food each year, sufficient for 80,000 meals in the campus cafeteria. Food scraps are composted and taken back to the rooftop farm, forming a sustainable food cycle.

The rooftop farm connects pupils and community residents to food landscapes and informs them about sustainable, organic growing procedures.

A total of 40,000 campus residents and community residents can volunteer on the roof and learn the ins and outs of planting and harvesting.

One hundred years ago, King Rama V cultivated the Rangsit rice plantations and a large network of canals on a rooftop farm. King Rama’s objective was to render Thailand a major jasmine rice producer. Paved over as Bangkok grew, the rice fields were gone—but now, they return.

Through their roles as volunteers, students and citizens learn about their cultural landscape and heritage. They can participate in workshops on farming, nutrition, and permaculture, which come as part and parcel of the college’s sustainability curricula.

The rooftop landscape resolves fossil fuel use to create power. Photovoltaic panels placed at the top of the roof generate 500,000 watts of electricity per hour.

This energy empowers water pumps that draw water upward from retaining ponds to irrigate crops during the dry season. The renewable energy is faciliatated by passive strategies that lessen energy use. The green roof insulates the building, lessening its cooling energy needs. And air which passes above the retaining ponds is cooled before it gets to the building, generating natural air conditioning.

All of these ecoconscious wonders meld in the building’s H-shaped form, which symbolises the college’s commitment to egalitarianism and democracy. Four equally-accessible sections form chambers that symbolise core elements of democracy—people, liberty, equality, and fraternity.

And, it would seem, sustainability.


Source: Dirt