Friday, 13 February 2009


Samsen Community, in Bangkok's Dusit district*, is the site of a study by current students in UCL Bartlett School's " Building and Urban Design in Development" course. At their Tavistock Square studio, I attended a presentation of the work, hosted by Professor Nabeel Hamdi and Supitcha Nong, in the institute which Prof Hamdi tells me began life long ago as the 'Tropical' unit at the Architectural Association. Students had mapped and profiled the informally-housed Samsen community, about 340 residential units, and have developed briefs around residents' needs, aspirations, and livelihoods.

Student responses applied a framework of "provide - adapt - enable - sustain", and projects ranged from a craft business incubator called "Thought Factory" and a livehoods programme for waste pickers, to urban public arts using Bamboo. Notions of linking with NGOs -although tentative- included reference CODI, EMPOWER and UNICEF. Materials recycling for craft enterprise and tourism were two shared themes of the projects.

*Dusit is described as a mini-European city, transformed by Rama V. from a former fruit orchard. (Lonely Planet)