Imagine how nice it would be to open your bedroom windows and see the trees, vast green spaces, squirrels climbing up the trees in search of food, hearing birds humming softly like a lullaby, and filling your lungs with fresh air every day. People may think that this would be impossible for life in a big city. However, there are numerous urban forest projects nowadays that allow us to live closer to nature while still doing the job we love in the city. But which projects are sustainable and meet the needs of city life amid nature? Let’s find out.
The More Green Spaces, the Better
The expansion of the city and the building of residential areas and facilities has caused a reduction in green spaces. Nowadays, in urban areas, each person has a green area equal to the size of just two 6-foot beds, or less than 7 square meters*, and if the latent population is included, the ratio of green space per person almost halves. The World Health Organization (WHO) requires at least 9 square meters of green space per person.
*calculated from the population figures recorded in the civil registration, latent population excluded.
How Important is Green Space?
Numerous studies have confirmed that green areas positively affect mental health, stress, and anxiety. Living amidst nature and green spaces helps lower the chances of depression and reduce stress and anxiety. In addition, children growing up in green spaces develop and learn better than those in city skyscrapers.
What Proportion of Green Space Is Considered Good?
The answer is the greater, the better. Bangkok’s green space per person is less than 7 square meters, whereas Singapore’s green space is 66 square meters per person. A sustainable green space should consist of trees that provide shade and coolness, plus shrubs and grass that hold the topsoil when it rains. According to the Thai Building Control Act, B.E.2522 (1979), at least 50% of a residential project’s vacant spaces must be sustainable green areas, 25% of which should be trees.
More Green Space Requires a Sustainable Maintenance Plan
Even though the ratio of green space and forest area per person matters greatly, the next most important thing is maintaining those areas for sustainable growth. Therefore, if you want to buy a house in an urban forest project, you should ask about the green area maintenance plan in the short, medium, and long term to ensure that the project will not be deserted or lack maintenance in the future.
Activity Areas for all the Family
Imagine how great it would be to enjoy your favorite activities under the shade of big trees, with dedicated spaces for all the family. A safe playground for the kids, running trails and workout areas for parents and seniors, and a park for leisure time with the whole family, all within the project.
Recreation areas are important zones that provide space for the whole family to relieve work or school stress. The workout areas are especially important. Not only does exercise strengthen the body, it also releases happy hormones, including serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine which make us happier, less anxious, more refreshed and able to sleep better.
A Sustainable Environmental Management System
Wastewater, air pollution, and overflowing garbage are major environmental problems in big cities. More shocking is that urban pollution mostly comes from communities and everyday life, not factories, as most people believe.
A startling statistic worth considering is that each day we produce an average of 200 liters of wastewater per person. Without a wastewater treatment process, this would directly affect the environment as a whole. Therefore, before deciding to buy a house or condominium in any urban forest project, you should check the environmental management process, especially when it comes to wastewater treatment, waste disposal, garbage segregation and recycling.
Suitable Spaces for all Generations
Thai families in this day and age are mostly nuclear families, living apart from extended family members on both sides. But wouldn’t it be better if there was an urban forest project where different generations could all live happily together? A space suitable for people of all generations: children of learning age, working parents, and retired seniors all coexisting perfectly together, whether in a big house or simply in the near vicinity.
Universal Design Principles to Create Spaces
Urban forest projects must design spaces according to the Universal Design Principles which are used worldwide to design cities, public spaces, and home interiors to optimize the design for everyone. This is especially important for countries like Thailand which are stepping into an aging society. Renovating spaces to accommodate the elderly, wheelchair users and the disabled is highly necessary.
Universal Design Principles consist of:
- Equitable use: equally accessible for everyone without any discrimination
- Flexible use: convenient for anyone whether left or right-handed and regardless of their height
- Simple and intuitive use: using images and symbols, so people of any language can understand
- Perceptible information: providing enough usage details
- Tolerance for error: being safe, strong, and durable for any cases of misuse
- Low physical effort: anyone can use it easily
- Size and space for approach and use: providing enough space for movements, especially for wheelchairs users. The Universal Design Principle inspired examples include slopes for wheelchairs, handrails for elders, bathrooms specifically for the elderly and disabled, labels with Braille, and tactile paving.
Complete Utilities and Facilities
Urban forest projects must of course include green spaces, but also utilities and facilities for daily life, such as schools, healthcare centers, shops, and other amenities, so that residents can live happily in a healthy community.
Living in an urban forest project amid greenery can become a reality, whether in a house or condominium. The Forestias has developed mixed-use real estate, including residential areas, offices, hospitals, schools, shopping malls, and green spaces to create a happy and healthy community where families can all live together in a sustainable environment.