The proposal is a soft intervention along the river corridor that could turn a ‘border’ (river) into a ‘place’ where people from both side can interact, share, develop and utilize the full potential of Mekong sustainably. The combination of fixed and floating architecture designed and strategically placed on or above the isles to assist agricultures, river fisheries, and community’s activities, and at the same time improve the deteriorating Mekong ecology. New activities are infused as catalyses for river research, education, arts, and tourism which will increase economic value to the region.
With the AEC coming into effect at the end of 2015, bordering countries are improving the connection between each other. Our specific site is a border along the Mekong River - the stretch between new commercial port and the 4th Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge between Chiang Rai and Huai Sai. With the advantage of improved logistic at both ends, it is an area full of potential to connect to the world and at the same time full of risk of damaging ecology and local community if not develop properly.
In the past, border has never been a concept for South East Asian countries. Mekong is seen as a shared asset for both sides along the bank. After the Western colonial era, border is introduced to protect each other’s interest. Since then, Mekong’s rich resource has never been utilised.
Geomorphologically, variable water flow, coarse sediment and sparse vegetation are the favorable factor to form ‘Braided Stream’ characterized by series of isles along Mekong. Isles are important component of this type of river composed of sand dune and scrubland acting as a sanctuary for diverse aquatic species traveling up and down the river during flood season when water level is raised up to 20 metres.
Dams on the upper stream affect water flow rate to increase and fluctuation becomes unpredictable. As a result, there is more sediment on the river bed making it shallower. Erosion along the river bank is also accelerated. These are the challenges to trade vessels and giant fish species. Mekong River is at risk both terms of economy and ecology.
Series of soft architectures made of native tree branches are inserted at the isles to create meeting places, food production nodes and at the same time improve Mekong’s ecology.
There are 2 types of interventions that encourage different usages through different season dictated by water level fluctuation as follow:
Sediment Formation in Dry Season
Food Production in Semi-Flood Season
Hydro Energy and Aquatic Sanctuary in Flood Season
Bird Sanctuary in Semi-Dry Season
‘Mattress Ring’ protects erosion and traps sediment to fall on the isle rather than on the river bed, thus clearing the depth for commercial vessel. It also slows down the water flow rate.
‘Isle Ring’ defines area for food production. Agriculture on isle will take advantage of rich nutrient from sedimentation. It’s also a platform for setting up fisheries equipment and connecting to floating isles during dry, semi-dry, and semi flood season.
’20 m. tall Tower’ is a viewing and hydro energy node located along the ‘Isle Ring’. The height is to withstand the highest water level.
These loose interventions float to avoid affecting ecology and move to form various compositions during different season. Each of them accommodates specific function to benefit of local communities and also opens up new economic, cultural, knowledge exchange opportunities such as Museum, Eco Resort, Community Centre, Library, and Aquatic Research Centre.