Bangkok pocket parks spring up across the city but what are they like?

Bangkok pocket parks have been springing up across the city as part of Governor Chadchart Sittipunt’s plan to provide easy access to green spaces. Of course, these are not the most prominent places. In fact, blink and you just may miss many of them.

That is, in some ways, by design. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has teamed up with numerous stakeholders to transform unused land into something that has value. As you would expect, these plots aren’t always the most conventional sizes or shapes. But that’s also what makes them perfect for the initiative.

With land in the city center limited and quite expensive, a new approach was needed. This program takes sites that would otherwise go unused and turns them into something productive. Areas underneath overpasses, alleys and plots too small to develop are among those to be given a second life.

Of course, these are limited. You won’t be able to run laps, play soccer or get lost in a sea of trees. That is not the intention. Bangkok pocket parks are designed to be communal spaces where families can spend time outdoors and local residents can enjoy nature without needing to commute across town. 

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Converting these sites from nothing into a park is a win-win for everyone. The public gets a much-needed, albeit small, place that would otherwise sit empty and, if we are being honest, collect garbage. Meanwhile, the BMA can improve livability at the grassroots level and private landowners who participate can enjoy tax breaks.

The end goal is to have enough Bangkok pocket parks to ensure residents are a maximum of 15 minutes away from a green place. To accomplish this, the BMA is expected to convert more than 100 unused sites into parks with plots held by City Hall, state-owned enterprises and private individuals. Current plans call for these to be completed by 2025.

At the end of the day, Bangkok pocket parks aren’t exactly game changing. And most Bangkokians probably won’t even realize they exist. That is what happens when you build something on land that no one knows what to do with.

However, this doesn’t mean it’s a bad plan. On the contrary, you will find plenty of people enjoying these during the day. Considering the alternative is no green space at all, Bangkok pocket parks are an excellent initiative that helps make the Thai capital slightly more livable. If only something could be done about the pollution…just saying.

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