Climate change is a key issue to address everywhere around the world, but it’s especially pressing in Southeast Asia, which is accelerating its carbon emission faster than any other region today. Forbes reported that between 1993 and 2013, global warming has caused the sea level in the area to rise by an average of 3.3 inches. They also reported, though, that some architects have responded by rethinking how they design certain infrastructures and buildings.
Kotchakorn Voraakhom is one example of an activist in this area. A Harvard graduate and landscape architect, Voraakhom returned to her native Thailand in 2006 after finishing her graduate studies in the United States. Upon getting home, she realized that most architects in her country were doing a poor job of building structures that guarded against the impact of climate change.
“[I] witnessed the development of many top-down public projects that should, but did not, lead the way towards a sustainable city,” Voraakhom.
Seeing no architectural solution to the climate change issue, Voraakhom decided to design one herself. Eventually, in 2017, she founded Porous City Network (PCN), an organization that pledges to “increase urban resilience and adaptability to confront future climate uncertainty in vulnerable communities in Bangkok and other Southeast Asia cities.”
Voraakhom’s work includes searching for both short-term and long-term solutions. In the here and now, she wants to respond quickly to incidents of flooding in Thailand, repairing damage as well as putting up embankments that will help prevent future issues. In the long run, she also wants to improve climate resiliency in the region by undertaking projects like climate-resilient houses, rain gardens, green roofs, permeable parking, and urban forests and farms.
The efforts of Voraakhom and others like her will be of vital importance in Thailand. A recent study from Germanwatch revealed that the country is one of the top 10 countries in the world in terms of facing long-term risk due to climate change. It’s estimated that Thailand loses 140 lives and $7.6 billion per year due to climate events.