August 2009: How to design a parliament for a fledgling and sometimes fragile Thai democracy? For us, we believe that the answer does not lie in creating monumentality or visual symbolism, but rather in the power and significance of public spaces. We can all see that most open spaces in Bangkok are neglected landscapes that are subservient and left over from the architectural design. What we propose is to completely reverse this situation and design all the parliament functions around a large public space first, so that the open space is positioned within the heart of the building site. All the Parliament functions, from the House of Representative conference rooms, to the Senate and other government administrative programs, would then surround and radiate from this, forming a hybrid building program: the “Democracy Stadium”.
The ambition of the design is to create the highest degree of public openess ever experienced in any Thai governmental institution, while providing a safe environment for the government workers. Along with active security management controls, horizontal buffer zones allow physical separation while maintaining visual connections. However, the most important aspect of the design is that the public space needs to be accessible 24 hours a day, every day. It is actually designed for public protest and demonstration. It reminds us that in a democracy, people have the right to demonstrate and we hope the design provides the space for them to do so with dignity and civility.
By creating this spatial relationship, this design can communicate a new image of what governance can be. The building expresses unity and cooperation between the government and society at large. More importantly, the design reminds all people – from elected representatives, civil servants, to laypersons that visits the building – that the new Parliament has been built to support and serve the Thai people.
A publication and exhibition about the Thai Parliament design competition has been organized by the Bangkok Art and Cultural Center in Siam Square. For more information about the exhibition in Thai please visit the BACC website here.
Name: National Competition for Thai Parliament
Function: Government, office, cultural
Scope: Architecture, Interior, Landscape
Building area: 300,000 square meters
Project team: Phuttipan Aswakool, Pattaranan Takkanon, Luke Yeung, Jariyawadee Lekawatana, Udomsak Komonvilas, Vichayuth Meenaphant, Khatiya Chatpetch, Parima Sukosi, Pailin Paijitsattaya, Tammarat Rodpul, Manassak Senachak, June Vijitkamjorn
Location: Kiakkai, Bangkok