The Forestias will reconnect Bangkokians with nature at a 158 acre forested neighbourhood in Bangna, wedding high tech with deep forest for sustainable well-being. Imagine waking to the dawn chorus of a forest. You draw the curtains open. The woodland stretches out invitingly before you. You have time for a run before hopping on the eco-friendly shuttle to work.Outside, the morning air is as fresh as iced water. A shady pathway leads you to the heart of the forest. You jog on past the creek. Yet you are still in the city. The Skytrain station nearby can whisk you to the centre of Bangkok in minutes. Highways put the airport and other cities in easy reach. Every amenity for modern living is onsite, from shops to offices, restaurants, entertainment, healthcare.
For All well-being
This vision of eco-friendly well-being is The Forestias, a 158 acre green district that international developer MQDC aims to complete at Bangna in 2022. Joyful mornings are part of a much wider goal in well-being, says Ms. Natenapis Sookbang, the President of The Estate, the international developer’s resale and rental specialist.
“MQDC is founded on a concept ‘For All Well-Being’, which means we aim to provide well-being for all – residents, nearby communities, wider society, nature, whether plant, animal, or insect,” she says. “The Forestias will care for all its residents, both human and wildlife. There will even be a 6,000sqm reserve of deep forest. Here, no one will set foot except rangers, offering a haven for the shyest forest creatures.” Above all, MQDC is aiming for humankind and the rest of nature to live again as one.
The Miyawaki Method
But how to rebuild that link when ecosystems are so damaged?
To bring real forest back to Bangkok, the team at The Forestias is drawing on the work of Akira Miyawaki. The Japanese botanist’s discoveries are claimed to speed up reforesting 10 times and to produce forest 30 times denser.
A key element in the ‘Miyawaki method’ is the choice of plants. In Japan, Miyawaki had studied the trees around cemeteries, temples, and shrines. Why was the mix of species so different from other woodland? He realised that these trees were relics of Japan’s original forest. Many species long viewed as native were, in fact, interlopers.
A series of stunning reclamations followed at 1,300 sites in Japan and other tropical countries. Damaged soil and ecosystems could be saved – and much faster than anyone had dared hope. Building on this knowledge, The Forestias aims for tall trees within 3 years and a fully restored ecosystem within 10. The return of rare wildlife like otters will signal when recovery is complete.
But sustaining this ecosystems, with its 53 plant and 123 animal species, also calls for innovative design and technology, a strategy MQDC terms ‘sustainnovation’. “The Forestias brings to bear the work of MQDC’s Research & Innovation for Sustainability Centre (RISC),” says Ms. Renu Thanomkul, Vice President for Overseas Markets at The Estate.
“RISC applies MQDC’s philosophy of ‘For All Well-Being’ by examining society’s pain points and finding solutions that move the property sector forward. The centre curates public resources like a library of 400 eco-materials. It also funds research in areas like vertical farming, up-cycling waste, and even ‘nano-bionics’ that enable plants to glow in the dark.”
The enticing outdoors at The Forestias applies several new principles. The district, above all, reverse the dreaded ‘urban heat island effect’ that lifts peak temperatures in Bangkok by as much as 7°C. Tree shade prevents surfaces like tarmac from soaking up heat. A centralised utility plant (CUP) and district cooling system dispense with AC compressors. These ubiquitous fixtures of Bangkok balconies actually pump as much as 1.4 tons of heat into our streets for each 1 ton of cooling they put into our homes. The landscape is further moulded into a ‘cooling basin’. A ‘bioswale’ will provide nighttime cooling, while helping recycle water. A forested valley will help maintain a fresh ambiance throughout the day.
Biophilia: well-being from nature
So how much will all this green space boost our well-being? The precise answer, in figures, will come from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. The school has taken The Forestias as a test bed to study how nature improves sleep and reduces stress. But the evidence worldwide is mounting. Leafy surroundings bring many benefits. Large-scale studies have found gains from heart disease to homework.
Forests are credited with an especially towering stack of health benefits. In Japan, shinrin-yoku, or ‘forest bathing’, is prescribed for almost every ailment of modern life. Researchers suggest tree chemicals called ‘phytoncides’ help boost the immune system. Tree leaves also filter out fine particulates like PM2.5 that regularly drift down across Bangkok. Another explanation is ‘biophilia’ – the theory that humans are, at core, programmed to thrive around nature.
Outdoor leisure will further contribute to the sense of community at the heart of the neighbourhood, says Ms. Sookbang. “The Forestias is a mixed-use development where residents can meet all their everyday needs onsite,” she says. “A green transport system will help you get around to the shops, cafés, offices, leisure spaces, healthcare, and other amenities, without having to get out into the city traffic. The district is also designed to bring the community together through its public spaces.” Eye-catching features to bring people together include a skywalk, running over the forest canopy to link residential areas.
With an ‘intergeneration’ concept, bringing together all ages, The Forestias has both public and private spaces for all generations. The Aspen Tree residences will cater for older adults with a full-spectrum of services, design, and programmes for ‘ageing in place’. Whizdom is tailored for young families. Mulberry Grove offers innovative villas and residences for extended families.
The Forestias will also have residences from the famous hospitality group Six Senses, alongside a hotel and spa. “The Forestias is intended to revolutionise how we see human communities and natural ecosystems,” says Ms. Sookbang.
“Life here will address issues in sustainability and well-being that cities face everywhere. While this is first district of its kind, we are confident it will spark new approaches around the world.”
The Forestias is open for booking now.
To find out more about life there, please visit www.theestate-thailand.com or: +662 012 4555 #3 or [email protected].