The Chao Phraya Sky Park was opened as a public space during the pandemic as a unique bridge that is also a park spanning a river in Bangkok. Interestingly enough, the project was abandoned for 40 years before being revived as the nation’s first pedestrian bridge park that spans a river.
Chao Phraya Sky Park is located in Bangkok’s historical district with panoramic views of the city. CPSP aims to demonstrate the possibilities for creating public green space in a dense urban environment. Designed by the City Planning and Urban Development Department (BMA) Chula Unisearch, Chulalongkorn University, the park was made possible by collaboration with a number of professionals, including urban designer Urban Design Development Center (UDDC), Chulalongkorn University, landscape architect Kotchakorn Voraakhom and architect Chakdao Navacharoen.
Additionally, low carbon emission construction methods were used. This emphasized that the creation of this park was aimed at prioritizing the health of citizens and the environment. The designers also wanted to make use of neglected spaces to show the possibilities for creating walkable livable spaces even in urban areas.
The sky park was founded on an unrealized dream for Bangkok to be part of the first nation to establish a sky train in Southeast Asia. Shortly after the structure was completed, political disagreements caused the project to be put on hold in 1984, which put an end to the project. Locals began calling the failed Lavalin Skytrain structure “Saphan Duan” or amputated bridge.
In 2015, a plan was put in place to revitalize areas of Bangkok. One community leader proposed finishing the bridge so people could at least walk across it. Community members rallied around the idea to create a footbridge or green space over the river to serve the community and connect people.
The new Chao Phraya Sky Park emulates the style of the next-door historical Memorial Bridge but in a modern form. It also creates an echo of bridges that decorate the city skyline together. Now visitors can enjoy the Memorial Bridge, the old and new city skylines and several temples visible from the location.
The new park splits the linear space into two pathways that interweave to maximize space. You can walk or run, bike or picnic on the bridge park. All pedestrian spaces are elevated above roadways on either side to reduce noise and pollution in the park.
Moreover, modular building with precast GRC blocks allowed the construction to avoid obstructing traffic on either side of the bridge. This type of construction also saves time, material waste and costs.
Bridges have to take weight limits and wind force into account, so the planting design used low-maintenance plants that can tolerate wind and sun and require less soil. These plants also have less spreading of branches to avoid cluttering up the space of the park or the roads on either side. This new microclimate promotes urban biodiversity and creates a green corridor for insects and birds.
It is a small bridge in a large city, but the designers hope that the sky park will serve as a model for creating climate resiliency and healthy environments in large cities.
Images via Department of City Planning and Urban Development (BMA), Chula Unisearch, Chulalongkorn University