Report of the international seminar in Bangkok « The process of making heritage of ordinary city »

Crossing perspectives on the Development and Evolution of Heritage Approaches to the « Ordinary City » in South-East Asia

ENSA de Paris-Belleville, UMR AUSser/IPRAUS and Faculty of Architecture of Chulalongkorn University organised an international seminar from 20 to 22 November 2019 in Bangkok.

The seminar focused on the constitution of the ordinary urban heritage field in Southeast Asian cities and the multidisciplinary approaches developed to document this heritage. Nathalie Lancret, as project initiator, Pijika Pumketkao, member of pilot group, participated in this seminar and presented the ongoing work on documentation of ordinary urban heritage in Chiang Mai (Thailand).

On the first day, eight Franco-Thai researchers presented their ongoing work on three thematics: approaches of making ordinary heritage, documentation associated with the process of making ordinary heritage, and study sites. On the second day, the researchers took a field trip to historic districts on the east bank of Chao Phraya River. On the last day of seminar, two brainstorm sessions were organised to stimulate debate and reflection concerning the study sites and the common research issues for developing a joint research project between 2020-2023.

The research group chose as the pilot sites Bangrak and Yaowarat, main artery of Bangkok’s Chinatown. Founded in 1782, these are ancient trading districts, lined with Chinese wooden or masonry shophouses, reflecting the emblematic urban life and urban fabric of ordinary cities of Southeast Asia. Today, these districts are the location of Bangkok’s rail transportation infrastructure projects. A rail station of Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT) was constructed in 2019 at the heart of Chinatown, aiming to open up this area. In this way, the research group has an interest in the issue of documentation related to the metropolitan projects, which also deal with urban heritage and inform about the process of making heritage of ordinary city in the dynamic of transportation development and urban transformation.

Throughout this seminar, many fruitful exchanges took place between participants. This could enrich the reflections on the notion of ordinary urban heritage, and on the specific aspects of the documentation of ordinary city in Southeast Asia for designing the city of the future.

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