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Kaew Khum Oey Garden: Rewilding Strategies Turn Unused Land into an Oasis of Calm

Kaew Khum Oey Garden: Rewilding Strategies Turn Unused Land into an Oasis of Calm

/ Chiang Mai, Thailand /

/ Story: Lily J. / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Courtesy of Jai Baan Studio /

Imagine what to expect as urban areas relentlessly expand into the outskirts of a city. More basic physical infrastructures are needed. As to be expected, they have a significant impact on rivers, canals and natural water bodies. Not to mention new roads that traverse a vast area covered with forest and agricultural land. Some see it as a welcome change. For others, it’s a rude awakening for its potential to have an effect on the ecosystems. Precisely, there’s a good chance it could afflict harm to existing “Ecological Corridors.”

Jai Baan Studio

What are “Ecological Corridors,” anyway? The term refers to both natural features of Earth’s surface and landscape planning strategies designed to prevent or reduce the effects of habitat loss.

Be it natural or man-made, they provide habitats crucial to the survival of indigenous florae and faunas great and small. Simply put in plain language, they are natural homes to plants, animals, birds, insects and other living organisms.

Jai Baan Studio

It’s for this reason that a property owner in Chiang Mai decided to create an open public space that’s central to the physical and mental health of both humans and animals. She started out with 12 Rai of land (slightly shy of 5 acres) of her own that’s part of a housing development on the outskirts of the city.

Named “Kaew Khum Oey Garden,” the green space project connecting Chiang Mai people with nature is undertaken by the homegrown design atelier Jaibaan Studio.

Jai Baan Studio

Supawut Boonmahathanakorn, architect and founder of Jaibaan Studio, said that for a long time the 12-Rai plot was left largely undeveloped after much of the upper layer of earth had been excavated to fill a strip of land designated for road building.

It lies environed by more than 30 housing developments without a single open public space. That’s reason enough for the owner to put in good quality parklands complete with bike trails, jogging trails and workout spaces for the community to enjoy.

Change is a good thing. The green is open to people of all ages, plus it’s thoughtfully devised to connect with existing ecosystems in the surroundings.

To create an oasis of calm that allows public access, the designer has been meticulous about its appearance and made spaces available for commercial activities, including room for the restaurant business.

It’s a thoughtful consideration since it’s the business that will generate the incomes needed to fund the upkeep of the park, thereby freeing the property owner from burdensome responsibilities in the long term. Plus, it helps to operate within budget.

With respect to landscaping, the designer further improves the visible features of the land by putting in trees and small plants indigenous to Thailand’s North.

Ironically, some of the species are less commonly known even among locals. As the growth of urban sprawl continues, neighborhood greenery matters. That’s the way he sees it.

Hence, the restoration of the area to all its former glory becomes his front-and-center concerns. Besides giving local residents the opportunity to reconnect with nature, he treats it as a design laboratory in which the flora and fauna and other living elements native to the area are incorporated in the design.

Jai Baan Studio

As the designer of Jai Baan Studio puts it, the park doubles as nature conservation, a restoration of the natural environment in which native plant species take precedence over any other consideration.

Trouble is that nowadays the garden market is awash with excessive amounts of decorative plants, including species imported from abroad.

Because of that, most landscape developers across the country have elected to integrate foreign imports in the design despite the kingdom’s rich and diverse native florae. As the imported tree species become more popular, nurseries and garden markets comply.

Subsequently, the landscape designer is compelled to act according to demands. And before you know it, there aren’t many native plant gardens around anymore, let alone the nursery business that produces them.

To solve supply chain problems, the landscape designer builds his own nursery, one that’s specialized in native species production to fulfill the park’s specific needs.

He crosses the hill and sifts through the water collecting specimens of native florae and faunas needed to repopulate the area, literally starting from scratch. A job very well done, he’s succeeded in breathing new life into what was once a neglected piece of ground.

Some of the more commonly known species he reintroduces to the park includes herbal species, such as

(1) Ngu-khiew (พันงูเขียว) or Brazilian tea (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis);

(2) Tri-chawa (ตรีชวา) or squirrel’s tail (Justicia betonica);

(3) Kraprao-daeng (กระเพราแดง) or Red holy basil (Ocimum tenufiorum);

(4) Ho-rapha (โหรพา) or Thai basil (Ocimum basillicum var. thyrsiflora); and

(5) Fai-duenha (ไฟเดือนห้า) or Butterfly weed (Asclepias curassavica). The list goes on.

Jai Baan Studio

Kaew Khum Oey Garden is by no means a one-off project. It’s the designer’s finest work to date. So the information about the native florae used here will be stored in a repository of data for future landscape developments similar to this one.

The data will also be made available for public access in time to come with a view to stimulate demands, thereby encouraging the nursery business to fulfill the emerging needs for indigenous plants in the future.

For a carefree, laid-back vibe, it’s the designer’s intention for the project to be nothing out of the ordinary, a public green space that operates without too much control or intervention.

As he puts it, “There may still be parts of it that aren’t arranged neatly or in good order here and there, but hey, that’s perfectly normal if we wish to restore an area of land to its original uncultivated state.

“After all, we have different notions about beauty in the 21st Century. Wouldn’t you agree that there’s a sense of beauty in imperfections, too?”

Jai Baan Studio

It’s the different conception of beauty that brings our attention to “Rewilding the Environment,” the term used to describe the return to a state of being unorganized or leaving it alone again, naturally.

By design, it’s a far cry from the impeccably manicured garden. Rather, it’s one rich in the flora and fauna of the Northern Region, including insects. It’s a design that views human users as inextricable parts of nature.

So if you’re looking for a place to relax, lean back and chill, Kaew Khum Oey Garden is the place to be. It’s made with the user in mind. And that’s precisely the message that the design atelier Jai Baan Studio tries to communicate.


Designer: Jai Baan Studio (

Find out more about nature-inspired landscape architecture and ideas for a possible course of action toward environment-friendly design similar to the above-mentioned project at the upcoming room X Living Asean Design Talk 2023.

It’s an opportunity to meet up Supawut Boonmahathanakorn, architect and founder of Jai Baan Studio as well as a panel of experts from three ASEAN countries.

This year’s conversation event is on the theme of “URBAN FUSION / RURAL FLOURISH: Interweaving Urban and Rural Designs.” The Design Talk is scheduled for Sunday August 6 at the room Showcase zone inside Baan Lae Suan Fair Midyear 2023.

Admission is free. Just a friendly reminder, seats are limited. Registration is recommended.

For more details:

Register to attend at:

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Tanatap Ring Garden Coffee Shop: A Design Experiment on the Interaction between Commercial Space and NatureLow-Cost Micro Dwellings for Klong Toey Community: Housing Opportunities Aimed at Bridging the Gap between Urban Developments

room x Living Asean Design Talk 2023: Urban Fusion / Rural Flourish: Interweaving Urban and Rural Designs

room x Living Asean Design Talk 2023: Urban Fusion / Rural Flourish: Interweaving Urban and Rural Designs

/ Bangkok, Thailand /

 / Story: Kor Lordkam / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

room Books and Living Asean, media arms of the Amarin Corporations Public Company Limited specialized in home decorating, design and living a happy life, invite you to a conversation event titled, room x Living Asean Design Talk 2023: Urban Fusion / Rural Flourish: Interweaving Urban and Rural Designs.

room x living asean design talk

room x living asean design talk

The focus of attention is on urban development, the betterment of society and the safeguarding of the environment through well-thought-out design and the interaction of ideas between urban and rural communities. I

t’s aimed primarily at creating public awareness of the importance of design and its contributions toward housing developments ideally suited to the Southeast Asian Region.

room x Living Asean Design Talk 2023 is scheduled for Sunday August 6 at BITEC Bang Na, Bangkok, Thailand. It’s one of the main events at the 2023 edition of Baan Lae Suan (Home and Garden) Fair midyear. Admission is free!

At this time, room Books and Living Asean has assembled a panel of experts comprising four distinguished architects from three countries. They will touch upon several aspects of the fusion of ideas and the interaction of different designs between urban and rural areas.

Precisely, the topics of discussion include the following:

  • Design that creates a healing environment for people in developing urban areas.
  • Design that connects people to people and links urban with rural developments.
  • Design of the environment considering the dynamism of urban experiences in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, the rise of problems in the surroundings and the ensuing conflict.

This year’s Design Talk panel is made up of four distinguished architects from three countries.

M.L. Varudh Varavarn, of Vin Varavarn Architects, Thailand, will touch upon the topic of “Public architecture and solutions to the problems brought on by the gap between people in society.”

room x living asean design talk

The panelist has an excellent track record of creating architectural designs aimed at solving problems facing a sizeable proportion of the population – challenges brought on by the gap between urban and rural communities in the provinces. Nonetheless, they affect not only people in the remote corners of the country, but also their counterparts in the Metropolis.

His works of outstanding creativity included the “Low-cost Micro Dwelling for Klong-Toey Community” in Bangkok, Thailand, under which nine prototype homes were conceived and developed visualizing housing that’s sustainable.

They were further improved from the existing design at the time using materials that met quality standards. The focus of attention was on safety, durability, and strategies for accelerating project construction.


Shunri Nishizawa, of Nishizawa Architects, Vietnam, will discuss the topic of “Residential design in response to the prevailing climate and limitations in urban development.

room x living asean design talk

Mr. Nishizawa has won acclaim for his commitment to residential design that’s right for the existing weather conditions, taking into account the limitations and development site suitability.

His masterpieces included a project named the “House in Chau Doc,” a city in the Mekong River Delta region of Vietnam. In this particular case, the house was ingeniously devised to protect it from being inundated in a region prone to constant flooding.

The result is a timber-frame house with a building envelope made entirely of galvanized iron sheeting. It’s well-lit and well-ventilated thanks to open floor plan design that’s well-suited to the natural features of the land.


Supawut Boonmahathanakorn, of Jai Baan Studio, Thailand, will speak on the topic of “Rewilding the built environment: Interweaving urban and rural designs through non-human life.

room x living asean design talk

The panelist is an architect who works in and with the community. He is widely known for his role in connecting with people in rural areas and helping them gain access to design innovations and new ideas in vernacular architecture.

His outstanding works of creative skill included “Suan Kaew Khum Oey” (สวนแก้วคำเอ้ย), a project that sought reconnections between people and nature.

Located in Chiang Mai, Thailand, it’s a public park developed according to the “park in 15 minutes” concept which, as the name implies, is aimed at making relaxing green spaces accessible in a flash and it’s open to anyone in the neighborhood.


Antonius Richard, of RAD+ar, Indonesia, will speak on the topic of “Different aspects of design in response to the environment and surrounding circumstances.

room x living asean design talk

Mr. Richard is an accomplished architect with multiple environmental designs to his credit. They included residential, office, commercial and public space designs skillfully developed to suit different environments – a strong track record of achievements using the right design tools and strategies needed to achieve results.

His outstanding works included “Tanatap Ring Garden Coffee Shop,” an experimental café project designed to perfectly merge into the natural landscape.

It’s carefully thought out to bring into focus a sense of youthful exuberance and arouse interest in reconnections between nature and the people of Jakarta.


Schedule of Events

13.00 – 13.30        Guest Registration

13.30 – 13.40        Moderator delivers a welcome speech and opening remarks.

13.40 – 14.00        Panelist 1: M.L. Varudh Varavarn, of Vin Varavarn Architects, Thailand

Topic: “Public architecture and challenges brought on by the gap between people in society

14.00 – 14.20        Panelist 2: Shunri Nishizawa, of Nishizawa Architects, Vietnam

Topic: “Residential design in response to the prevailing climate and limitations in urban development

14.20 – 14.40        Break

14.40 – 15.00        Panelist 3: Supawut Boonmahathanakorn, of Jai Baan Studio, Thailand

Topic: “Rewilding the built environment: Interweaving urban and rural designs through non-human life

15.00 – 15.20        Panelist 4: Antonius Richard, of RAD+ar, Indonesia

Topic: “Different aspects of design in response to the environment and surrounding circumstances

15.20 – 15.40        Q/A session. Moderator wrap-up remarks. End of event.

room x living asean design talk

The conversation will be in English. Seats are limited. Admission is free!

Those interested in attending should register online here.

A part of Baan Lae Suan Fair Midyear 2023, the Design Talk by room X Living Asean is scheduled for August 6, 2023 from 1300 to 1600 hours at BITEC Bang Na, Bangkok. Mark your calendar!