Architects enlist to combat dust, offering safety guidelines

Architects enlist to combat dust, offering safety guidelines

A set of guidelines for improving architecture and design of residential units to deal with hazardous PM2.5 dust has been published. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)
A set of guidelines for improving architecture and design of residential units to deal with hazardous PM2.5 dust has been published. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

The Faculty of Architecture at King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL) and the Council of Deans of Architecture Schools of Thailand (CDAST) have published a set of guidelines for improving architecture and design of residential units to deal with hazardous PM2.5 dust.

Antika Sawadsri, dean of the Faculty of Architecture at KMITL and president of the CDAST, said the concept of architectural design of residential units and urban management is important for dealing with PM2.5 dust pollution.

Asst Prof Antika suggests a five-step plan for reducing dust pollution in the home.

First, reducing wind in the northeast direction of the house, as dust is caused by the collision of cold air with warm air during the change in seasons. Especially during winter, cold wind causes dust to flow into the house from the northeast. For this reason, houses that are situated in high-dust areas should reduce and divert the air-flow from the northeast to prevent dust from outside flowing into the house.

Homeowners should also increase green space inside the house and plant trees that help trap dust, particularly trees similar to pine trees with small leaves. Additionally, grass should be used for decoration, and where possible trees should be planted in front of the house instead of tiles. These changes in landscape are also noted to help increase the humidity in the house.

Materials that trap dust easily should be avoided. Certain interior decorative items may be more prone to trap dust, such as iron wiring in decorative items, or bricks in the layering of walls, as well as curtains, woollen or velvet fabrics and carpets.

An air filter is one way to reduce the amount of dust inside the house, although the filter should be cleaned regularly to prevent the accumulation of dust and germs. In addition, carpets should be cleaned regularly every week to reduce the accumulation of dust in the house.

Furniture should be selected that fits the ceiling to reduce the accumulation of dust. The space between the cabinet and ceiling is where a lot of dust gets accumulated. Choosing furniture that has a height that fits or is attached to the ceiling reduces dust, or by covering the cabinet and placing minimal items on it.

In addition, the faculty recommends state-owned enterprises set policies that address air pollution causes and encourage more people to cycle, walk or use public transport instead of using a personal car to prevent hazardous air pollution in the long term.

But Bangkok's urban planning is another factor leading to dust. Asan Suwanarit, director of the Faculty of Architecture and Planning at Thammasat University, said Bangkok is a relatively dense metropolis with only 10% of total green space per total area (compared with Singapore, which has a high population density and 47% green space.)

In terms of architecture and landscape planning, Bangkok needs to have more green areas that filter dust. To solve air pollution problems, Asst Prof Asan proposes that the city should have a green area of nine square metres per person, scattered across the city to facilitate air filtration.

He said green areas have been highlighted in the government's 20-year national strategy. With the PM2.5 dust pollution, it's expected that green areas in Bangkok will become a more important priority to curb air pollution in urban areas and improve the quality of life for urbanites.

Pondej Chaowarat, director of the Faculty of Architecture, Urban Design and Creative Arts at Mahasarakham University, said Germany designed a major urban layout design that raised the level of sustainable urban development in order to tackle its own pollution problems.

The urban management concept included increasing green areas in the city, improving public transport systems, providing convenient, accessible walkways to reduce the use of cars, restricting and prohibiting the use of cars that didn't meet the standard to enter the city, and creating more bike lanes.

Asst Prof Pondej said landscape design is an important concept to address the severe PM2.5 dust. However, it's more important to change the behaviour of residents, such as reducing the use of personal cars.

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