Culture TED Prize

A community center, built by the community, wins the latest City 2.0 award

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The Klong Toey Community Lantern — a community space in the oldest and largest of Bangkok’s slums — was built very quickly. Not quite as quickly as shown in this three-minute timelapse video, but construction for the project took just three weeks thanks to the help of the community.

But while construction went fast, Norwegian architects Yashar Hanstad and Andreas Gjertsen — of the firm TYIN tegnestue Architects — took six months to design the space. They conducted interviews with Klong Toey residents and held public workshops to find out exactly what the 140,000 person community — which struggles with rampant unemployment, drug use and substandard housing — needed. The goal was to create a safe oasis for community members of all ages to play and congregate.

The centerpiece of the Community Lantern is a soccer field, with bright lighting, that can double as a basketball area. Around it is an open structure with informal rooms for groups to hang out in and hold their own events. The walls are climbable and include hanging swings, for easy game watching.


“The area struggles with drugs and crime amongst other challenges, and we hope this project can be a little contribution that can lead to something positive,” says Hanstad.

Hanstad and Gjertsen have been named the latest winner of The City 2.0 award for the Community Lantern, and for similar projects they’ve launched in underdeveloped areas of Uganda, Sumatra and Norway.

In 2012, the TED Prize was bestowed upon an idea rather than an individual — The City 2.0, an online platform for the sharing of ideas to make cities function better. The $100,000 prize was broken into 10 grants of $10,000 each, to be given to a variety of projects spanning areas like transportation, education, housing, health, public space and food. Hanstad and Gjertsen have been given the ninth of the grants.

To suggest a project for the final City 2.0 awards nominate it through The City 2.0 website.