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Urban waterways in Bangkok - A spatial resilience approach towards a more amphibiously-sustainable living space
1  RWTH Aachen, Institute of Urban Design
2  University of Cologen, Institute of Geography


Deltacities, especially in Southeast-Asia are increasingly challenged concerning the resilience of their water-infrastructure towards extremes of drought and/or flooding. These challenges have been tried to tackle by hydraulic engineering infrastructure (dams, walls, pumps, gates), leading to lock-in situations concerning upcoming challenges in several decades caused by continuing ground-subsidence and sea-level rise. The existence of dams and flood-walls lead to a felt safety, yet reduces resilience of the inhabitants to possible leakages, floodings and problems related to the safety-level that once has been applied to the built form of the infrastructure.

Yet, infrastructure, such as urban waterways, are multidimensional and multiscalar embedded into the urban fabric. Therefore the resilience of water-infrastructure needs to be reframed and combined with that of the urban form and of the inhabitants themselves to adress several SDGs. By analysing the built form adjacent to waterways in Bangkok, this approach tries to extract properties of urban morphology qualitatively. This will be done with GIS mapping tools, analysis of architectural components, (such as relative height of ground floor, adaptability of floorplans), expert interviews and a categorization of morphological properties, such as typology, topology, modularity, diversity and capacity. Applying properties of spatial resilience (like from GS Cumming) into the understanding of urban morphology leads to a matching in properties. In connection with the institutional and the regulatory framework and including the socio-spatial sphere of the inhabitants, the spatial resilience approach can reframe sectoral urban resilience strategies towards an intersectoral, multidimensional and multiscalar decision support tool for integrated amphibious urban design.

This tool would need to be adjusted in each location, but may help to basically overcome single perspectives.

Keywords: Bangkok; Waterways; Khlong; Spatial Resilience; Urban Morphology