The demolition on Thursday of the “landmark” House No 99 in Bangkok’s Mahakan Fort community did not bode well for the remaining 15 antique wooden homes, independent city-planning expert Paranee Sawadirak said.
And there is still a question as to whether the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) was prepared to assist the residents who are losing their homes, she said.
The demolition of homes and eviction of residents from historic communities “deprives the city of a root”, Paranee said.
“This is not a good way to solve the issue of communities crowded with poor people, be the area historic or anywhere else in Bangkok. Has the BMA considered a mechanism for supporting and providing aid to the residents?
“Now I’m worried about the people who have moved out. Are there other ways besides just leaving them to make do on their own, or sending them to a Ban Man Khong project? Some resident groups might find those choices unacceptable. Couldn’t the BMA work with the Community Organisations Development Institute to find a more flexible solution?”
The two-storey House 99 on the community’s central plaza was torn down on Thursday, with the owner and neighbours reportedly offering no resistance.
The house had served as a library and community-history museum.
Officials of the BMA and Army met with resident and academics there in mid-2017 to negotiate the community’s future, resulting in an agreement that 18 houses, including No 99, would be maintained, as proposed by the Association of Siamese Architects.
However, a BMA committee later decided that only seven houses would be conserved. That number included House 99, but it was reported that owner Uraiwan Eungpakorn had already consented to its demolition.
The demolition work in the Mahakan Fort community makes way for a planned public park and history museum.
Community members’ offer to welcome visitors in a “living museum” if they were allowed to stay was spurned.