As many parts of the world are becoming an aging society – where more than 20% of the population are older than 60 years old, we need to rethink how we build our city for everyone to live meaningfully after retirement.
Seeking a new typology of future communities, ‘Jin Wellbeing County’ has become the first senior oriented mixed-use development in Thailand comprising residence, commercial unit, and hospital. Its planning focuses on 3 principles – ‘Sustainable Nature’, ‘Physical Wellbeing’, and ‘Sense of Community’, responding to seniors’ needs. Diverse activity dynamics are designed through ‘Retreat’, ‘Engage’ and ‘Create’ concepts which enhance all-round living experience. Together with our initial research on “The Seven Dimensions of Wellness,” marking beneficial approaches for aging life, all aspects are embedded in the landscape design to truly achieve “Community in the Ravine Forest.”
Located in the Chao Phraya Flood Plain, the site of Jin Wellbeing County in Pathum Thani, the suburb of Bangkok, is previously known for agricultural lowland, which gets flooded seasonally. Nonetheless, as time passed by, the area gradually became urbanized by rows of buildings, housings, and infrastructure, leaving the possibility of severe flooding. By blocking the flow of water, Bangkok and its suburbs have faced critical phenomena such as 2011 Thailand Floods and regular flash floods during the rainy season. As a result, Jin Wellbeing County is designed thoughtfully with a consideration to the public and surrounding site, by adopting “Polder System,” which helps retain water before releasing to public amenity, apart from doing typical landfill methods. This approach potentially helps maintain flood in urban areas, leading to a resilient living, if used in every site around the city.
Despite the full-phase masterplan with all mixed use facilities, the project is now completed within 58,332 square meters of Phase I which comprises Jin Wellness Institute and Thonburi Burana Hospital and Low-rise Residential Cluster 1 and 2. The project exclusively offers 22,485 square meters of green spaces – both on-ground and on-structure, which equals to 40% of the site area, exceeding the 30% standard requirement.
A perfect harmony with nature will surely enhance people’s physical and mental health. Plants selection varies in heights, forms and flower colors, including Perennials, Shoreline Trees, Groundcover plants. To imitate a forest, they are arranged all over softscape areas by mixing up, rather than in an orderly composition. They can trigger the ‘ecological succession’ process, allowing every species to grow mutually and substitute the older ones naturally over time.
Water management system functions in handling flooding on wet seasons and supplying adequate water on dry seasons. ‘Creek’ is proposed through the middle of the site as a main drainage and treatment system, along with ‘Bioswale,’ gathering runoff water from the outer part. Primarily purified water will flow along the way into ‘Biopond,’ used for retention and secondary treatment. It, therefore, provides reused water for irrigation and keeps the project green all year. This resilient ecosystem essentially becomes food sources and habitats for ‘urban wildlife’ such as birds, aquatic animals, insects and squirrels, playing a role in maintaining biodiversity and even exchanging such systems with nearby areas.
As ‘Universal Design’ is another main priority, all programs are connected with ‘All-ramp access,’ sloping up and down with equipped handrails and no additional steps. These pathways allow seniors and handicaps to stroll around safely. Ambulance can also easily pass through during an emergency. Seatings are placed at every 30-50 meters distance along the paths, where elderly can take a rest from time to time. Rough surface materials are used to reduce the risk of slippering, along with adequate lighting for night time usage.
The Therapeutic Garden, located nearby Jin Wellness Institute and Thonburi Burana Hospital is one highlight that ensures physical wellness. It encourages users to exercise their five senses – sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch to achieve holistic health, among colorful and fragrant species. Here, doing feet massage is attainable at the reflexology path designed with various sets of rough stones. There are also special trails for physical therapy designed in 3 patterns – flat road, slope path, steps. All are equipped with handrails, allowing caretakers to walk together and encourage them to rebuild their strengths.
“Multi-generation living” is another key feature, where independent living, family, and assisted living are united to build community spirit with activity dynamics. In order to ‘engage,’ space planning is designed to add a ‘chance of meeting,’ encouraging cross activity interaction such as exercise area and enclaves of gathering spots along the creek. Yet, there are also private seating niches and secluded outdoor tables among greenery, offering a sense of ‘retreat.’ After all, an edible garden allows to ‘create’ some dining and workshop together, leading to lifelong learning.
Moreover, in front of Jin Wellness Institute are the cascade, offering moisturized forest atmosphere, green lawn and swimming pool for group exercise, where people can enjoy taking time, as well as running along the site’s jogging track. Likewise, at the 2nd floor, there are meters standard lap pool, hydrotherapy pool, hot-cold tub and pool deck, suitable for different needs and lifestyles.
To conclude, Jin Wellbeing County surely is a living complex full of serenity and multi-generation spirit amidst a seamless harmony with nature and biodiversity, flourishing good quality of life.
Landscape Architecture: SHMA
Design Director – Prapan Napawongdee
– Napajorn Srichatsuwan
– Worawe Jamsomboon
– Pawida Bualert
– Prueksachol Chutchawanchaiphan
– Thita Cherdkiadtikul
– Supika Sukjamsai
Horticulturist – Supaluk Paorik, Tanee Sawasdee
Construction Manager – Thitiwat Chintanavitch
Project location: Rangsit, Pathumthani, Thailand
Design year: Phase 1 – 2016-2020
Year Built: 2020