Shortlisted Entries 2020

Khlong San District Office : Public Space as a Democratic Infrastructure

Phakin Subsathorn
Silpakorn University | Bangkok

This project intends to explore the roles of public space within the confines of our collective life, on how our experience of the public environment affects our perception of society and our collective decision as a democratic society. As our viewpoints become more and more polarized than ever, correlates with the rise of digital interaction that promises us a more global, convenient, and diverse gathering space; but instead, it segregates us in echo chambers, reinforces us into the false consensus. Combined with Bangkok’s already insufficient public spaces that are increasingly dominated by privately owned public spaces curated by investors for their customers, employees, and tourists, but not citizens. This thesis looks into the question of to what extent can architecture be a part of the solution? 

Public spaces might be one of the most important backbones of civic engagement within any society if we consider that a cohesive democratic society is not maintained by a commitment to an abstract ideology but through repeated human interaction whether it is active joint participation in a shared project or just a passive acknowledgment on how people who are different from us take part in our physical surrounding rather than a digital environment, leaves nothing to imagination or judgment by our often misinform stereotypes about who they are. Could an environment inspire us to be more understanding of others in our collective decision in a democratic process? 

When we participate in such a religious or working space, we put on a label as a follower or employee to belong with people with the same belief, professional or economic status. In an ideal democratic public space, no one should have to put a label on to fit in. By considering this, a governmental building is brought into consideration of this study because taxpayers are obliged to use and fund, making it necessarily inclusive while it does not possess the same sense of congregation as the other gathering spaces, which offers an opportunity to progress into an egalitarian gathering space.