Near Bangkok, Thailand is planning to build a new smart city in an industrial hub, a thriving area of the country that has been attracting billions of dollars of investment in recent years from global companies in the automotive, robotics, healthcare and logistics sectors. It is a master plan for the construction of the city in the Huai Yai sub-district of Chonburi province, about 160 kilometres south-east of Bangkok, recently approved by a commission chaired directly by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha. The still unnamed city will, according to plans, extend over an area of about 2,340 hectares and cost USD 37 billion.
The project will include five business centres leasable by companies based nearby, a financial centre and areas for precision medicine, international research and development and future industries such as clean energy and 5G technology. In addition, there will also be a new residential district, designed to accommodate 350,000 people by 2032 and where residents will be mostly employed in the industrial area.
Linked to this master plan, the Thai government has promoted the Eastern Economic Corridor, a development project whose objectives include urbanisation, promotion of advanced industries and infrastructure development. A plan, in short, at the antipodes from the recent affair that emerged in Toronto over the Quayside design, originally intended to be a smart neighbourhood and surrendered due to the general mistrust of residents increasingly doubtful about the security of their privacy. Despite this halting moment in countries with a Western cultural matrix, the ability to optimise the urban experience with technology continues to gain approval and substantial investment growth elsewhere, where, however, the word on the matter seems to be more in the hands of companies than the residents themselves.
Opening image: Sukhumvit Road, Thailand. Photo Andreas Brücker, via Unsplash.