This paper uses the introduction of a mass rapid transit system into the existing urban form of the city of Bangkok as a metaphor to explore issues of globalization and urban form. The aspirations of Bangkok to become one of the world cities in the global economy were clear prior to the economic crisis of the 1990s. The Bangkok mass transit system — the Skytrain — was initiated in 1992 and opened in 1999 in response to major problems of traffic congestion and pollution, and the expansion of central business districts. The Skytrain is promoted as a symbol of modernity, comparable to the best in the world. It was built over existing streets some 3–4 stories above ground level. At this level there are direct pedestrian links from the stations into some of Bangkok’s prestigious shopping malls and hotels, and links to commercial areas. On the streets beneath this massive structure, the vibrant chaos of Thailand exists, seemingly untouched by the world above. The streets are jammed with traffic, the footways with street traders and food stalls, and the night markets teem with people. Those, the majority, who find the Skytrain too expensive, ride in cheap buses, and on motorcycles, polluting the streets with fumes and noise. Two separate patterns of use, almost different “worlds” exist, one above and the other below the transit lines. The paper argues that both the local and global co-exist, and that globalization may not always be the winner.
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- Above and below the line: Globalization and urban form in Bangkok
- Springer Berlin Heidelberg
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