Thailand is on track to become a “super-aged” society by 2031—when more than a quarter of its population will be 60 or older. That demographic shift is prompting local developer Magnolia Quality Development Corp. (MQDC) to rethink urban living with a bold new megaproject. Part residential development, part commercial hub and part interactive green space, The Forestias is designed to give Thai families a way to co-live near extended family while maintaining their independent lifestyles.
“Traditional Thai families often have strong intergenerational ties that are being strained due to the demands of urban life, with the younger generation moving to the city for work while the children and the older members of the family remain at home,” explains Sunphol Sorakul, partner and director at Foster + Partners Thailand, which co-developed the community with MQDC. “The Forestias masterplan takes inspiration from the layout of traditional Thai houses to create a contemporary interpretation in the form of flexible community spaces, focused on health and nature, that can expand and adapt as the needs of the family grow.”
Located on the outskirts of Bangkok, the THB125 billion development will be divided into two zones: The northern one is slated for commercial offerings including offices, retail and food outlets, along with entertainment, cultural and sports facilities. The southern side will focus on residential life, with several housing types on offer: high-rise condominiums for individuals and small families, low-rise condos and cluster-home residences for multigenerational living, and residences with healthcare services for older residents.
The overarching theme is creating shared spaces where residents and families can come together: condos built around expansive courtyards, streets intersecting to create local neighborhood plazas and larger neighborhoods arranged around large public spaces. Designers also deliberately kept perimeter walls and hedges low and inconspicuous to minimize the number of artificial boundaries dividing homes.
Both zones will be built around smart city principles and feature autonomous vehicles and wireless sensor networks. But the masterplan revealed in May also points to another of the project’s goals: to create a “positive relationship between the built and natural environments.” Case in point: the huge forest linking The Forestias’ two zones. Along with an elevated canopy walkway, the area will feature an “experience center” with immersive and interactive experiences, including a micro-LED display that projects ultra-realistic viewing experiences using artificial intelligence.
Kittiphun Ouiyamaphun, MQDC project director for The Forestias, calls the community “a new global prototype for a town development.”
Bangkok is not alone in looking at ways to reinvent communities to meet post-pandemic needs. Yet city planners around the world must also consider a fundamental new reality: The world’s populations are getting older. Just this month, the United Nations proclaimed a “decade of healthy aging,” aligned with its Sustainable Development Goals. One of the areas of action? Age-friendly environments.