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Patrick Belli

United States

Hidden in plain sight off of Chiang Mai’s outer ring road, sits a large series of canals, weirs, and rice fields. The bridges, paths, trails for motorbikes, and roads which roam through the rice fields form a network only known to farmers and residents. Intertwined, the water and path systems produce a local mobility vernacular which is continuously redefining itself. While the subtleties of topography facilitate the movement of gravity fed irrigation, the outer ring road facilitates encroaching car-based urban expansion. This tension between the ancient hydrology and the expanding urban transportation network portrays the tension between the rural past and a push towards the metropolitan connected future.

Large gated suburban developments sit along the bustling ring road atop filled rice paddies. This encroaching development upsets the largely unnoticed, yet delicately balanced, flood control system between weirs, canals, the Mae Kuang river, and rice paddies. Responding to subtle changes in topography, the internal transportation network evolving and reorienting. Locally made footpaths and motorbikes bike trails traverse subtle height changes, weaving through paddies, forming a mesh of citizen transit connections.

Delicately hidden, raised one meter above the fields, one concave and one convex walkway will formalize this network, redefine what it means to access the rice fields, and protect them from impending development. A new relationship with the rice is created through the redefinition of the ground plane, allowing users to look inward and interact with the rice fields in an immersive yet non-disruptive manner.


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