Thai firm P Landscape vies for Future Project – Health category in WAF 2019
“Former jury member Mary Bowman encouraged us to join the WAF,” says P Landscape Co., Ltd. (P Landscape) founder and managing director Wannaporn ‘Pui’ Phornprapha, who views the annual festival as an excellent resource for learning and connecting with other practices around the world.
The firm began as a boutique studio doing commissions for private residences, high-end resorts, and hotels across Thailand, India, China, the Maldives, the Fiji islands, and the Middle East. Eventually, Phornprapha found herself developing a keen interest in public landscapes, which led them to design public parks, a Buddhist plum village, and a hospice that eventually was shortlisted in the World Architecture Festival (WAF).
The firm’s landscape project, Pink Park Village in Bangkok designed by I’ll Design Studio, is competing against fellow ASEAN finalist Sagip Kanlungan in Pangasinan, Philippines as well as healthcare projects in Providence, USA; Skolkovo, Moscow; Bandar Abbas, Iran; Moscow, Russia; and Nuuk, Greenland.
The WAF is the largest and one of the most prestigious annual architecture global events, where over 2000 architects come to listen to international speakers from such admired firms as Foster + Partners, Bjarke Ingels Group, Zaha Hadid Architects, Studio Gang, OMA, Nigel Coates studio, UNStudio, Neri&Hu, and Grimshaw Architects, discuss critical challenges to the profession. The WAF Awards, on the other hand, is where your work gains international exposure as other architects and designers and the industry’s power players judge it in a live crit.
Below are the images and concept description of P Landscape’s Pink Park Village, submitted to the WAF earlier this year. The text has been slightly edited for publication.
Landscape Architecture is the creation of life—a life that continues to grow decades after drawings have been completed—to be enjoyed by generations to come. Pink Park Village is the first hospice and convalescence facility in Thailand for underprivileged breast cancer patients. An initiative by the Queen Sirikit Centre for Breast Cancer Foundation (QSCBC), Pink Park Village is proof of the value that landscape architects can bring to vulnerable members of society.
The original vision of the Pink Park Village was born from a request by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit to create ‘a sanctuary for all women in need.’ In 2007, Associate Professor Doctor Kris Chatamra founded the QSCBC. Pink Park Village—officially launched in 2014—is one of many initiatives by the foundation focusing on the improvement of breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, and awareness for all women regardless of their income. The Pink Park Village is the first of its kind in Thailand as a not-for-profit holistic care center serving underprivileged women. It is hoped that it will be the first of many and will inspire initiatives of a similar benefit to the public.
The site is typical of those previously used for small-scale agriculture in the central region of Thailand, including Bangkok: flat, long in shape, adjacent to an irrigation ‘klong’ or canal, and subject to periods of inundation.
The first completed phase is comprised of the following programs:
- A hospice and convalescence homes for patients to live in either part-time or full time;
- A ‘daycare’ facility for patients requiring care during times where family members or other carers must go to work;
- An activity center for patients whose treatment includes physical therapy;
- A learning and training center for carers and other healthcare professionals;
- A cluster of pavilions representing the world’s major religions for spiritual support through quiet contemplation, prayer, and meditation;
- Organic community orchards and farm connecting local communities to sustainable farming and increasing wellbeing; and,
- An advanced diagnosis and pathology facility to screen for breast cancer.
The second phase will contain the advanced diagnosis facility and the second organic garden farm for the local community as well as patients.
Introduction to breast cancer statistics in Thailand
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), breast cancer is the top type of cancer in women in the developed and the developing world, and can be understood to be caused by an increase in life expectancy, increase in urbanization, “western” lifestyles and—most crucially for Thailand and other middle to low income countries—late diagnosis and ready access to adequate treatment (WHO, 2018). Even if a patient is not terminally ill, the personal toll continues in breast cancer patients and their families during and beyond convalescence.
During convalescence and palliative care, those affected by breast cancer (patients and their loved ones) are vulnerable emotionally, physically, and spiritually. As the landscape architect for the Pink Park Village, our goal was to create a landscape that respectfully brings joy, delight, and peace to members of the community whose lives have been irreversibly changed by breast cancer.
The role of landscape in creating places for health and wellbeing at ‘end of life’ periods and Palliative care and convalescence
As landscape architects, we thought of our role on this project as not only an honor but also a recognition of the importance of landscapes as the original ‘natural therapy’ with the ability to provide multi-sensorial comfort to people. The nature of this project is inherently ‘built’ to provide necessary shelter and utility to the important function that it serves to society. The landscape, though, occupies an equally important role as the ‘silent function’ to the site. The landscaped gardens cover more than 50% of the site and the future northern organic farm and orchard will increase this amount again once the second stage is complete.
Process of the design through stakeholder engagement and listening & Promoting community engagement with the cause and raise awareness about the illness
To create the design brief, the team started by simply listening and learning from Dr. Chatamra and the large group of stakeholders that included members of QSCBC foundation, oncology professionals in private practice, breast cancer survivors, and experienced carers.
It became clear that an elegant but simple landscape design with an abundance of color, texture, and seasonality would best service to the project. The idea to add permaculture to the brief was suggested at an early stage to further the narrative of growth and change as a part of the natural process of life. The organic orchards and farm have the added benefit of being open to the public and will also cooperate with local community members to tend to the farm and have a connection to what it yields tangibly and intangibly. Pink Park Village also finds a balance between being open to the public to encourage more awareness and reduce stigmas associated with terminal illnesses as well as providing much-needed privacy and calm to its residents.
Challenging stigmas of death and illness & the design
The landscape design is defined by a visually striking central spine created by using pink flowering trees that bloom at different times of the year. These trees demarcate the vehicular and pedestrian circulation. Below the flowering canopies, the landscape palette is comprised of a simple but impactful balance between open lawn areas for activities and flowering garden beds also filled with the pink hues that symbolize breast cancer awareness. The intention is not to remind residents of Pink Park Village of why they are there, but rather bring a softer and more residential aspect to what is a key ambition for the residents: to create a ‘home’ that they can feel comfortable in away from home.
Water bodies punctuate the site and operate on two levels: firstly, as ornamental ponds to bring a sense of calm and mental resilience into the landscape; and, secondly, to assist in environmental resilience through flood mitigation and to detain runoff for future reuse by deliberate and integrated grading design. Water is the second circulation system on the site and is a key part of the universally accessible pedestrian experience available everywhere on the site. Low timber platforms create viewing decks over the water and planted with lotus flowers and reflect the pink sky during clear sunrises and sunsets.
Pink Park Village is primarily a hospice and place for convalescence, and the landscape accounts for residents who are not physically able to traverse the site. Knowing this, the design of the landscape is also driven by a principle of bringing the beauty of landscapes into the building. This is done through carefully designed views from areas of rest inside the building—in close collaboration with the architects—and by bringing landscapes into interstitial spaces such as covered outdoor areas around the buildings.
The landscape, residents, carers, and community are one that hopes to encourage openness and learning about breast cancer and the importance of healthcare and education. As designers, Pink Park Village is an opportunity to demonstrate the ways in which landscape architecture can directly impact lives through sensitive approaches, subtle gestures on the beauty of ephemerality, the cyclical nature of life, and a sense of a universal order that we precariously tread during our short time on this planet.
As the landscape architects, it has been encouraging to witness the overwhelming amount of support shown by all those involved in the project and in the public to create an environment of dignity and philanthropy from private individuals who donated trees through the project website to contractors who provided equipment and materials for free or at cost. Pink Park Village is truly an example of the spirit of community and collaboration.
Introduction and edits by Denny Mata
Photos and image descriptions courtesy of P Landscape