Urban Discovery BKK

Bangkok wants to become stronger. Suicide rates are 3x the national average.

I explored the influence of mindfulness and resilience during BKK Design Week 2020 to find the stresses in daily life.

We discovered that spaces color people's perceptions and that unrelenting, common, negative spaces are taking over creative, resilient positive ones.

Urban Discovery BKK

Project Duration: 1 month

Team Size: 3 people

Role: Design Research, Analysis, Content, Project Lead

Watch the final talk

Urban Discovery

In general the world is changing (duh) and some can adapt better than others. Bangkok set up Design Week 2020 as a platform to have the entire city collaborate together to come up with some answers.


We wanted to take part, but in order to figure out what is going on we wanted to hear from the people. We set up a series of 3 workshops around the city. I was able to present my findings on resilience and mindfulness and in return we asked people to breakdown common locations around Bangkok.


Prior to the workshop we filmed the common locations around Bangkok as well as recorded a soundscape of the city for people to reflect on (everything is linked below).

Bangkok Soundscape

Common Location: Congestion video

Common Location: Open Spaces video

Common Location: Streets video

Common Location: Transition video


We obtained incredible amount of data from the workshops. It included:


1) a Pre-Survey asking people to track a stressful place and a joyous place in their lives.


2) A full A-E-I-O-U breakdown of each of the 4 common locations by new groups during the 3 workshops. Every post-it note also had a linked emotion: beneficial :) or hurtful :(


3) Extracted themes and mindmaps from each of the groups about the common locations.


We collected everything and clustered it and created a few 2 x 2's to examine major themes that emerged from across all of the participants.

Spaces color your life

An interesting spectrum emerged which we presented on our final talk on the last day of BKKDW2020. Some spaces were clearly bad causing people to feel isolated, inactive, and idle (ex: rush hour). These spaces are dubbed "crowded." Other spaces were clearly good causing people to feel connected, rested, and alive (ex: parks). These spaces are dubbed "lively." In the middle are ambiguous spaces which can go either way (ex: street markets).


A person can do the same action in any spaces, but the space will color that action to be hurtful if the space is "crowded", or beneficial if the space is "lively". For example, waiting can be boring and lonely in one space, but chill and serene in another.


The problem is that people spend most of their day in "crowded" spaces which are too common. Secondly, the "lively" spaces are precarious and a trigger can make them inaccessible or turn them completely into a "crowded" space. For example, malls used to be considered "lively" but with the recent Corona Virus scare, they have become places of fear with people wearing masks and sanitizing their hands at every turn.

Everyone can help

Our recommendation follows Hazel Markus' Culture Cycle:


1) The easiest step is to shift ambiguous spaces to be more lively which can be small scale interventions done by an individual.


2) The medium step is to shift "crowded" spaces to be more ambiguous. This must be done by groups and communities and requires more people interacting with one another.


3) The hardest step is to strengthen precarious "lively" places. This can only be possible through the work of institutions like the government and media.


Everyone has a role. It is up to everyone to make permanent change.

Yuri Zaitsev | yurazai@gmail.com