Flooded Thais Seek Refuge in Prefab Concrete Infrastructure
November 14, 2011
Last week, Japanese earthquake victims began settling into a neighborhood of new temporary housing complexes in Miyagi. The clean, compact yet spacious modular homes made from shipping containers proclaim the virtues of prefabrication and adaptive reuse and demonstrate, once again, architect Shigeru Ban’s ability to synthesize contemporary sustainable building practices with a historically rooted Japanese sensibility.
Meanwhile, in flood-ravaged Bangkok, a similar story emerges from the waterlogged streets of Pathum Thani. CNN recently released a video that captures Thai communities taking refuge in prefabricated concrete shells used to construct Bangkok’s elevated skyway. Within these tiered cement structures, dozens of recently homeless residents have moved in with their most prized personal belongings, from pampered purse-sized dogs to massive flat-screen televisions and refrigerators. More after the break.
While coverage of the flooding in Thailand has dwindled, many Thais continue to wait for the waters to recede from their homes. As much of Bangkok is still only navigable by boat, the concrete hive has proven to be a preferred alternative to more conventional government shelters. The prefabricated units of infrastructure provide evacuees with relatively large alcoves of dry space to call their own as well as sources of electricity to tap into. Moreover, the company that owns the skyway has openly given permission for its new occupants to stay.
Aside from offering some comforts of home, the skyway’s concrete shells provide a vital sense of community for those who have been so abruptly uprooted from home. As a third of the nation’s provinces face a lack of jobs, the shutdown of schools, the scarcity of resources and government aid along with the health hazards of the rank floodwaters, the cement forms have kept families and neighborhoods together as they wait patiently for things to return to normal.
Watch the video here.