Bangkok (1890-1910)/ Dusit Park and the transformation of architectural style
Fig.1 Dusit District map
After the 1890, Siam began the construction of Modern Siamese Identity, and felt the effects of colonial economy in Southeast Asia accelerated by the 1893 Franco-Siameses Crisis, during which Bangkok was invaded by foreign military force. Another important effect over the transformation of Siam architectural style was the two-trip of Rama V towards the Europe during the 1890 to 1910 period. During the tip, Rama V In favor of the ancient monuments of Europe and historicized styles of architecture of his time. His preference towards the historical, academic styles of architecture led to the fabrication of revivalist and neo-traditionalist architecture in Thailand.
After Rama V’s return from the 1897 trip towards Europe, he began the Dusit Park project. The Dusit district at the north of the old walled area of the city was designed to be Bangkok’s modern suburb. Dusit district under the command of the Rama V was constructed by the Public Works Department (PWD), which was constituted by Italian architects, engineers and artists mastering the latest architectural styles and construction techniques. Thus the construction of Dusit Park was a sign of the transformation of architectural style in Bangkok.
Dusit Park was about three square kilometers in size. In spite of the royal residence for Rama V, princely villas for king’s sons, Buddhist monasteries, streets and avenues were important elements in the Dusit District. Examples include the residence of Nop Krairoek, the King’s butler, and the house of Koed Bunnag, the Minister of PWD were all fine European-style residences.
Fig.2 Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall (1908) , a former reception hall within Dusit District in Neo-Classic style
Beside the construction of Dusit Area, the increasing construction of public buildings and administrations sponsored by the king also owned diverse architectural styles. Villas looked just as civilized as those of suburban Berlin and Brussels. Buildings like the Chakri Throne Hall, demonstrate how the East and West were juxtaposed in the siwilai architecture of the period. With the construction of public buildings, shops and offices of companies, architectural style became diverse, with western-style buildings standing side by side with Chinese-style shophouses and Thai-style temples and palaces.
Fig.3 Chakri Throne Hall (1882), a western residence with domed roof replaced by a Thai styled roof
The transformation of architectural style from single Thai vernacular style to a hybrid of architectural styles in Bangkok reflects the modernization effort of Thailand to make the capital city comparable to western capitals.
Evers, H. & Korff, R. (2000). Southeast Asian Urbanism : the Meaning and Power of Social Space, New York : St. Martin’s Press.
Moore, E.H. and Osiri, N. (2014). ‘Urban Forms and Civic Space in Nineteenth- to Early TwentiethCentury Bangkok and Rangoon’, Journal of Urban History, Vol.40, No.1, pp. 157-177
Povatong, P. (2011). Building Siwilai : Transformation of Architecture and Architectural Practice in Siam during the Reign of Rama V, 1868 – 1910, the University of Michigan