Architecture Residential design

Foster + Partners’ new Thailand project is a smart city enveloped by a forest outside Bangkok

May 25, 2021

Global practice Foster + Partners has revealed the designs for its latest project in Thailand – The Forestias – a residential-led masterplan with a large forest at its heart. Located on the outskirts of the capital city Bangkok, the nature-centric development addresses the growing disconnect between contemporary city life and family traditions, underpinned by the idea of health and wellbeing. It focusses on the themes of community, promoting multi-generational family co-living and reconnecting with nature, providing a template for healthier and happier urban living in Thailand. The entire development is based on smart city principles, with autonomous vehicles, smart meters, and sensor networks.

Sunphol Sorakul, Partner and Director, F&P (Thailand), Foster + Partners’ local entity, said: “Traditional Thai families often have strong intergenerational ties that are being strained due to the demands of urban life, with the younger generation moving to the city for work while the children and the older members of the family remain at home. The Forestia’s masterplan takes inspiration from the layout of traditional Thai houses to create a contemporary interpretation in the form of flexible community spaces, focussed on health and nature, that can expand and adapt as the needs of the family grow.”

The site is divided into two zones with the northern areas containing more city-level public functions, while the larger southern portion is primarily residential in nature. At the heart of the site is a forest that underscores the development – showcasing the positive relationship between the built and natural environments and a focus on healthy living in harmony with nature. Lush greenery surrounds the entire development with a range of different planted areas offering a variety of experiences and functions within the forest.

The idea of healthy living has recently become a much-discussed topic due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Establishing a positive relationship with nature is the key element that underpins the design of The Forestias masterplan. The main entrance gives visitors a glimpse of how the development sits in harmony with nature. The Forest Pavilion is an ‘experience centre’ showcasing the vision of the project’s concept through immersive and interactive experiences designed to evoke The Forestias lifestyle. It features a canopy walk – an elevated platform that extends into the central forest green, allowing people to get up close and personal with nature. The Forest Pavilion links the more public-orientated northern area of the site with the residential south.

The southern portion of the site contains a range of different housing types from high-rise to villas, catering to a varied market. It includes three ‘Whizdom’ high-rise condominium buildings that are designed to perfectly suit smaller family units.  There are also ‘Mulberry Grove’ low-rise condominiums that bring residents close to nature, as well as ‘Mulberry Grove Villas’ cluster-home residences for extended, multi-generational families who wish to live close together in a bunch of interconnected homes.  Another residential offering is ‘The Aspen Tree’ residences.  These are designed to suit the special needs of older residents, with lifetime care services.  Capping it all are super luxury villas called the ‘Six Senses’ residences.

The blurring of boundaries at neighbourhood level is achieved by visually reducing boundary walls and hedges and creating shared facilities that encourage people to come together as a community. Taking its cues from the lively streets found in the traditional neighbourhoods, the projcet aims to create expandable and inclusive social spaces. For instance, in the Mulberry Grove villas, the basic building block – the courtyard – is at the heart of every home. This allows the buildings to define the street edge. The intersections of these streets form plazas for the neighbourhood, and multiple neighbourhoods revolve around a large public space for all the residents

Other successful smart city-based masterplan that Foster + Partners has designed in Asia is the Masdar City in Abu Dhabi and the now shelved Amravati City project in India’s southern state of Andhra Pradesh. The firm also has several projects in the construction phase in Saudi Arabia that has embarked on a development spree.

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