Niramon Kulsrisombat
Urban Design and Development Center, Thailand

What kind of work do you do now?

I have been an assistant professor at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand since I received my D. Eng. in Urban Engineering from the University of Tokyo. Since 2005, I have taught urban design at Chulalongkorn University. In 2013, I became a co-founder and director of the Urban Design and Development Center (UddC; uddc.net), which is a center for research and consultation on innovation in development. UddC is a focal point for experts in a variety of urban study areas, including planning, design, politics, sociology, economics and informatics. UddC acts as a deliberative platform for urban development in Bangkok where local residents and stakeholders are engaged in discussion and decision-making processes. UddC has gained the trust of government, the private sector and the community. There are UddC projects at the local and city level. For example, the Yannawa Riverfront Project (yannawariverfront.org) was conceived as a way to regenerate public space along the Chao Phraya River. The Bangkok 250 Project (bangkok250.org) produced a strategy for regeneration of inner-city Bangkok. In addition to urban advocacy, another important area of work of UddC is research as part of the GoodWalk Thailand Project (goodwalk.org), which uses open big data to improve understanding and analysis of the situation, and generate recommended interventions to make Bangkok more pedestrian-friendly and inclusive.

What did you learn in Urban Engineering?

My interest in deliberative planning as a mechanism to build citizenship arose when I was a graduate student at the Urban Design Laboratory of the University of Tokyo during 2000-2005. I was particularly influenced by two professors: Yukio Nishimura and Takeru Kitazawa. Beginning in the 1980s, these two individuals helped to spearhead the local planning movement which redefined urban planning, giving a greater voice to local residents and networks in multiple sectors. This paradigm shift reshaped the urban landscape by regenerating historical features of the host communities through a collaboration between residents, academia and local government. These two professors also founded the Kashiwa-No-Ha Urban Design Center which serves as a platform for consultation between the community, academia, the private sector, and local government. The Center is a driving force for innovation in the service of good governance, and those principles are being replicated in many other towns and cities around Japan.

Message to students who wish to enter Urban Engineering.

The Department of Urban Engineering (DUE), University of Tokyo is one of the best schools to study urban planning. In my opinion, the competitive edge of DUE includes a variety of specializations, which are based on the solid experience and empirical practices of each research laboratory. Innovative ideas and creativity continuously emerge from discussion among members in the dynamic lab network. DUE also offers opportunities and generous grants for motivated students to participate in research and academic activities in Japan and internationally.