Title: Thailand's neglected urban heritage: challenges for preserving the cultural landscape of provincial towns of Thailand

Authors: Worrasit Tantinipankul

Addresses: School of Architecture and Design (International Program), King Mongkut's University of Technology, Thonburi, 49 Soi Thian Thale 25, Bang Khun Thian Chai Thale Rd., Bang Khun Thian, Bangkok 10150, Thailand

Abstract: Historical urban communities in provincial towns across Thailand are facing rapid demolition as a result of urban development. Comprised of simple wooden shop houses reflecting humble architectural craftsmanship, the character of these historical provincial towns is one which reflects unique patterns of urban livelihood and culture in Thailand. And yet, this provincial urban cultural landscape does not figure into the official Thai conception of 'architectural heritage'. This paper discusses the current policies and problems resulting from the Thai state authority's neglect of the value of small town urban communities. Moreover, it also touches upon the technical problem of maintaining wood structures, and discusses the possibilities for their adaptive use to support the continuation of the community's unique everyday activities. This paper argues that there is still hope for saving Thailand's provincial urban heritage due to the rise of ecotourism and participatory cultural heritage preservation principles.

Keywords: historical provincial towns; urban communities; conservation; cultural heritage; cultural landscape; Thailand; heritage discourse; urban development; culture; architectural heritage; wood structures; ecotourism.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTA.2013.058628

International Journal of Tourism Anthropology, 2013 Vol.3 No.2, pp.114 - 129

Received: 13 Nov 2012
Accepted: 12 Sep 2013

Published online: 12 Jul 2014 *

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