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Landscape Porosity: Why we need Water-Based Urbanism

Creating urban spaces that allow for the free flow and penetration of water and wind is essential to the survival of water-based cities like Bangkok. “Landscape porosity” can help us better understand and defend these urban ecosystems in times of climate change, says Kotchakorn Voraakhom.

By 2050, rising sea levels could affect triple the amount of people previously predicted, threatening to all but erase some of the world’s great coastal cities including Bangkok. Southeast Asia, the region with the largest total coastline in the world, is facing extreme risk. Its cities, rooted from agrarian, water-based societies, have now transformed into paralysed concrete developments, leaving many delta capitals under extreme water stress. The need to shift away from concentrated land-based development is apparent.

“Landscape porosity” proves to be a useful approach by looking at how we can reclaim a city’s porosity, especially in the context of muddy delta cities. Porosity can be understood in this context as a city’s capacity to adapt to the natural flow of water, focusing on fluidity and flexibility as essential mechanisms of climate adaptability – elements often neglected in urban development.

Breathable void and healthy pore structures, allowing for the flow and penetration of water and wind, are thus key necessities. It is the mission of the Porous City Network (PCN) to defend these ecological pore spaces while creating more through trees, parks, green roofs, forests, wetlands, ponds, and grasslands. In this regard, Bangkok serves as an excellent example of how building eco-centric green and blue infrastructures can revive our cities’ urban ecosystems.

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