The day began reading “Learning from Slums” in the last few hours before landing in Bangkok. The article spoke of slums as a “heterogeneous spatial ecology,” reframing ideas of the city and concepts of informality. It reminded me to consider how cities such as New York, London and Paris have shaped our ideas about industry and modernity. At present emerging cities like Bangkok, Lagos and Sao Paulo are teaching us new things about what is the meaning of a city and how this concept of a city is in a process of great transformation.
I was last in Bangkok nearly 4 years ago — my previous trip to Thailand was part of a seven-month journey through South East Asia, Indonesia and South America. It marked the beginning of my decision to work at the junction of design and international development. Now I return to Thailand as a part of the Development Planning Unit and part of a collective of urban practioners, aiming to connect our theoretical analysis with field based research.
But even more so, I am curious to find what Bangkok will teach me and how the spatial narrative of the place will be different from what I remember. Each place that I have spent time in, especially those far from home, far from our ideas of comfort have moved me, have added one more layer to my understanding of the world and my meaning of work.