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In Search of Fundamentals of Thai Architectural Identity: A Reflection of Contemporary Transformation

Journal: Athens Journal of Architecture (Vol.3, No. 1)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 21-40

Keywords : ;

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The long historical development of Thai Architecture has revealed inherent fundamentals of architectural identity that reflect enduring Thai wisdom. Upon closer scrutiny of contemporary architecture, fundamental Thai characteristics persist in the present-day context, and unveil the inherent approach to Thai architectural identity development. The objectives of this research focus on: 1) reviewing theories, concepts and guidelines in the development of modern Thai architectural identity; 2) making architectural surveys in various regions of Thailand, especially prominent works relevant to modern Thai identity transformation; 3) identifying the concepts, inspirations and directives of creation held by architects and academics. Twenty specified architects and academics were interviewed and the outputs were analyzed through content analyses based on the research conceptual framework. Through integrated analyses of these studies, five major categories of fundamentals were revealed. The abstract qualities reflect the enduring Thai spirit nurtured through conditions of tropical climate and Thai wisdom. The non-abstract characteristics are mainly the outcomes of localism for both traditional and contemporary architecture such as the use of local materials and the applications of formal pattern. Among the various dimensions of aesthetics, the two dominant characteristics are the use of curvilinear lines, such as the graceful catenary curve, and refined ornamentation. Symbolism through the application of iconic images is apparent in both traditional and contemporary architecture in design elements such as the high-pitched gable roof and lotus-shaped motifs. Symbolism derives from the prevalent belief system in reincarnation and the cosmological model. Thainess encompasses the spirit-driven formal and popular development, and the joyful nature of the Thais regarding the formal multiplicity and colorful manifestation. More research should be focused on the meaningful symbolic intervention rather than the iconic applications of conventional images and elements. Finally, the confirmed fundamentals would be the basis for creating a distinctive Thai architectural identity in the more globalized future.

Last modified: 2016-12-07 22:50:52