Khlong Ong Ang Canal in Bangkok’s Phra Nakhon district has won the 2020 Asian Townscape Award for a Landscape Improvement Project.
The award organiser, UN-Habitat Fukuoka, has selected Khlong Ong Ang as one of six places in Asia that demonstrated outstanding improvement in landscape, art, culture, safety and quality of life of people in surrounding communities.
Other countries that also won the award were Japan, South Korea, China, Nepal and Malaysia.
“I would like to thank every related agency and the public for helping improve Khlong Ong Ang into a beautiful landmark that deserves this international recognition,” said Bangkok Governor Pol General Aswin Kwanmuang.
In 2015, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) introduced the ‘reclaiming pavements for pedestrians’ plan with the goal of bringing cleanliness, safety and orderliness to the city.
Khlong Ong Ang (meaning pottery canal), an old town area of Bangkok, has successfully been transformed from a dilapidated toy market and a severely polluted canal into a new recreational oasis attracting busy foot traffic from locals and foreign visitors alike.
Once a scruffy market for toys and electronic gadgets enthusiasts, Klong Ong Ang is now Bangkok’s latest leisure hotspot for people from all walks of life after undergoing a major beautification.
On the weekend, the waterfront transforms into a vibrant walking street from 4pm to 10pm, and appeals to urbanites for the cooling river breeze and a diversity of activities. This is the first time in 30 years that people can get close to the water in this particular klong and they celebrate in different ways.
Families enjoying an evening strolls and taking selfies with the graffiti on the walls as the backdrop; youngsters kayaking and paddle boarding on the canal; young children munching street food and older folk enjoying live music – all are now common sights at Klong Ong Ang. The walking street is aimed to stimulate the community’s economy and generate revenue from tourism. The walking street’s event theme will be changed every week.
The BMA couldn’t have asked for more. This was exactly the image the authorities had in mind when they started evicting hundreds of street vendors five years ago, and then dismantling the illegal structures, cleaning the canal water, and beautifying the walkways, turning the area into a new cultural destination for city dwellers.8.
The 1.5-km walkways on both sides of the waterfront, have been paved and are illuminated by street lamps while the canal has been cleaned and its sides reinforced with concrete. Artsy elements have been added on the walls along the section with graffiti depicting stories of bygone Bangkok. New drainage covers have been designed for the old town district. Cosplay is encouraged. A 6.4km route between Bang Lamphu and Klong Ong Ang has been designed for kayaking and paddle boarding.
The area has undergone many changes over the last two centuries. Dug in 1783 at the order of King Rama I, the section was designed to connect the northern and southern parts of the Chao Phraya River, and sweeps its way through the bustling Chinese and Indian neighbourhoods of Yaowarat and Phahurat.