Bueng Se Nat: Creating a network of community architects, city planners and stakeholders involved in city-wide upgrading  in Thailand

Project name: Bueng Se Nat

Funder/Sponsor: CODI

Collaborator: CODI

Year: 2018

Project type: Design and City Planning; Knowledge Management 



In May 2018, Openspace and the Community Organizations Development Institute (CODI) resolved to create a network of community architects, city planners and stakeholders involved in city-wide upgrading projects to support city-wide upgrading process in CODI. The aim is to allow a shift from the current ‘project-based approach’ to ‘city-wide approach’. This emergent network aims to link people working in different areas (for example, small community development studios, regional universities, institutions, etc.) with a focus on: 

  1. Creating processes for people in the city to articulate and design their own long-term visions for the future of their city 

  2. Creating a network and mechanism of working together in each city, for all stakeholders to return to and continue doing activities in line with the shared vision together with the government sector

  3. Facilitating knowledge management through all processes engaged in with communities and CODI officers, allowing for knowledge to be scaled up


Bueng Se Nat: a pilot project

As of 2018, CODI and this network have been working in five regions, finding one potential pilot city in each region. Bueng Se Nat is a city in the Central and West region, which was picked as Nakhon Sawan – the province the city is based in – is a long term base for Baan Mankong programs, with a strong network, and because the city gets flooded on a yearly basis – a common problem throughout Thailand.

Most people in Bueng Se Nat are farmers and do not have land tenure – adding to the general feeling of impermanence and lackof stability. CODI has been undertaking a Baan Mankong program in the city, starting people’s processes like community savings groups. Through these processes, some strong actors have emerged, making it a good example for citywide upgrading. 


Bueng Se Nat: The process

Openspace organised a two-day city mapping meeting with people from six villages, focusing on mapping the city’s resources, problems, and opportunities with issues such as:

  • “We want to have a 30-year lease on our land” 

  • “We want to solve the flooding problem”

  • “We want to live with flooding, not evacuate every time it floods”

  • “We want to have better houses so people with disabilities can move to higher floors when it floods”

  • “We want the sports school to be opened for people to evacuate to during floods”

  • “We want to start organic farming here, but it seems very hard since we all still need to make enough money for our living, and money needs to come first at the moment”

  • “We never knew exactly where the boundary for our house was, not until the land owner came to demark it”

  • “We want to focus on tourism, making Bueng Se Nat a water city during floods”

  • “People here who have enough money would switch their job to fishing”


In the end, eight topics that the Bueng Se Nat people chose to focus on discussing further emerged: 

  1. Housing 

  2. Land security 

  3. Livelihoods 

  4. Flooding and drought 

  5. Environment and nature 

  6. Health 

  7. The effects of government policies and projects 

  8. Local networks

The meeting was a source of inspiration for local people and several interesting groups were formed on issues like farming and land security; three villages have continued their mapping efforts. Openspace created the general map with the information gathered during the meeting – to support a detailed analysis of the area.

Together with the communities, and the CODI reginal officers, we presented the information and case study to the CODI subcommittee, who then secured funding for some implementations for this city to mainly support housing, open spaces, and strengthening the community.  

This project is ongoing.