Report of the survey in wua Lai neighbourhood

Ordinary city mapping and architectural survey in Wua Lai neighbourhood, Chiang Mai

In the framework of Archival City project, our approach to documenting the ordinary city of Chiang Mai relies on the pedagogical trainings, notably on the Studio of Master’s degree « Heritage/Tourism, Contemporaneity/Development » which associates ENSA Paris-Belleville, Faculty of architecture of University of Chiang Mai, Faculty of architecture of Chulalongkorn University (Bangkok). The field workshop of this studio, organised each year on December in Chiang Mai since 2011, is an opportunity to produce the documents on Wua Lai neighbourhood, our case study. The archive of Wua Lai is an integral part of our corpus of study.


Wua Lai, an old silversmiths’ neighbourhood, is chosen for an in-depth study of urban morphology, living space and urban heritage projects. By crossing the architectural, ethnographic and urbanistic approaches, the students carried out a survey of ordinary city through sketching, photographing, mapping and filming. They also conducted an architectural survey of the old wooden houses and silversmiths’ workshop of master craftpersons. In parallel, the interviews were conducted with monks and artisans who develop


the local projects aiming at conserving, promoting and transmitting their craft knowledges and know-how, memories and urban histories of their neighbourhood.   On December 13, 2019, the students presented their draft documents of survey at the Chiang Mai Centre of École Française d’Extrême-Orient to Yves Goudineau, director of the Centre, and the Franco-Thai teachers. The discussion on the survey works raised many urban issues of Wua Lai neighbourhood, notably the impact of tourism development and urban gentrification, as well as the capacity of inhabitants to adapt to the new dynamic of the city and to adhere to the network of Historic and Creative City of the Unesco. Indeed, the urban and architectural survey gives students and researchers the key to understand the evolution and transformation of ordinary city, as well as the usage and valorisation of urban space and urban history for the local heritage projects and for thinking of the future city.

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