Thai university home to Asia’s largest rooftop farm

Thammasat University has taken urban green spaces to new heights by creating the largest rooftop farm in Asia as one means of counteracting climate change.

“We tend to make a distinction between buildings and green spaces, but green spaces can be part of building design in cities like Bangkok, which has few green spaces,” said Kotchakorn Voraakhom, the landscape architect behind the project.

“Rooftops are usually underutilized, but they can be green spaces that reduce the urban heat-island effect, the environmental impacts of buildings and land use, and also feed people,” she said.

Thammasat University is regarded as the Yale of Thailand, a prestigious center of learning and progressive ideas. The university has launched programs on sustainability and climate change. The main campus is located on the bank east bank of the Chao Phraya River.

In 2011, a series of tropical storms led to the Chao Phraya overflowing and flooding vast swaths of the country. The disaster prompted Kotchakorn to ponder incorporating climate-resilient designs into her landscape architecture.

She recently designed Bangkok’s first new public park in decades, an 11-acre green space at Chulalongkorn University, regarded as the Harvard of Thailand.

Thammasat stresses an egalitarian ethos, and so its rooftop farm is open to anyone who wants to use it to grow rice, vegetables, and herbs, said Vice-Rector Prinya Thaewanarumitkul.

“Thailand is an agricultural society, but in the cities, we are so cut off from the source of our food. With rooftop farms, we can also improve urban food security,” he said.

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