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The Return of Old Building Revival Mission in Bang

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Previously, top searches of ‘New World Department Store’ are about the abandoned department store with structural issues and a Fish Palace where fish were smuggled into the pool of water that flooded the building floor to solve mosquito issues and at one point became a popular destination for photos. After the news broke out, the area was closed off to transfer the fish and flush the water out due to the worrisome structural integrity of the building, ending its legacy in Bang Lamphu. In 2020, Nong –  Asst. Prof. Supitcha Tovivich of Faculty of Architecture, Silpakorn University has brought a team of students and alumni to work on the New World x Old Town project in collaboration with the community and revive this dormant abandoned department store to life again.  


The Beginning of the Abandoned Building Revival


“New World Department Store is an old abandoned department store located on the Bang Lamphu intersection which makes the atmosphere quite gloomy. One day, I came across the photos inside the building on my friend’s Facebook page, so I sent out a message asking about how to get inside. The building has been architecture students’ ultimate dream project. Turns out, my friend’s family is the landowner of the land the department store had rented. So, I went on a discussion with the faculty’s urban planning professor because the building’s location is ideal for area restoration. If the New World is revived, the surroundings will follow suit.”

“The first year of the showcase, we started with the idea that this building has been closed off for so long and the landowner doesn’t know what to do with it but wants the building to continue being a part of the area, it does not necessarily have to be the luxury department store like in the past. So,  we thought that it’s the first time we open up the building in decades, we don’t want it to just be an exhibition where outsiders came to take photos and the people in the area are confused about what’s happening.”

 

“The first year of New World x Old Town focused on communicating with people in the area. We brought them into the building that had been an important part of their lives and told us their memories that cannot be found on the internet because the internet didn’t exist at the height of the area’s prosperity. Previously we’ve only heard of the building’s collapsing floors, but surprisingly, the New World in the minds of people in Bang Lamphu was a cool and trendy place that helped drive the economy and part of their daily lives. For the people of Bang Lamphu, this building is not a bad guy, the people went there every day, doing many activities there, there are still remnants of shops within the building.” 


The Journey towards the Sequel of Historical Architecture Conservation (People Edition)


This year’s showcase is a continuation from the last one aims to show the restorative potential of this building in the future. We have done the structural inspection which makes sure it is sound for doing the exhibitions. Last time, we collaborated with the Kesorn Lamphu community and people of Bang Lamphu, focusing on the majority insider around 85%. This year, we want to involve outsiders to see the potential as well. Prof. Chatri Prakitnonthakan said something very interesting, he said this is another kind of building conservation. When you talk about building conservation, the building would usually have certain beautiful architectural elements and historical importance but this building is a skeleton, evidence of illegal structural building, it doesn’t align with what people see as valuable. One day the building would have become something that would revive the Bang Lamphu area again. So, we want people outside the area to see its potential. The people in the area don’t want to demolish the building but they want to revive the building which will drive the economy of the surrounding area.

 

What we intend to do is to show a memorable Bang Lamphu through a light show installation and shine a light on the well-known distinctive character of the area. Others might not know exactly how distinct the character is, so through design works we’re presenting the stories of the area in the past, present and towards the future with objects, stories, and people.” 


Insider and outsider fulfilling each other 

“This year, the Faculty of Architecture, Silpakorn University is collaborating with the Faculty of Music, Silpakorn University to explore the sounds in the Bang Lamphu area. We felt that the sounds and music in the area are more easily accessible to the general masses than reading text on the boards. Last year’s light installations were made by novices like us, but this year the professionals HUI Team Design and Saturate Designs have lent their hands. We also have the Kesorn Lamphu Club who will be the guide and have been coordinating the project with people in the area from the beginning.”

 

“The first time we exhibited was a bit nostalgia, this time we want to invite people in the area to be inspired and show what this building and Bang Lamphu can be in the future. In the future portion, we are highlighting a group of youngsters in the Kesorn Lamphu Club. This group of people is the one who is taking the Bang Lamphu forward, just like the Kesorn Lamphu tree pollinating and refusing to die.”

 

“The collaboration allows us to utilise our strengths as outsiders and insiders to support each other. In some outsiders’ view, our lack of knowledge makes us excited or not understand how special this area is for an insider. For instance, this house is not special architecturally but it houses highly skilled Khon costume makers or some insightful stories like Tor Ngek Chuan Crispy Pancake Store that Tar (Director of the Kesorn Lamphu Club) told me, the store used to sell records and the family believed in selling round objects so when they stop selling records they turn to make this delicious crispy round pancake instead.”

 

“We want people in the area to visit New World x Old Town and become inspired to bring life back into the area, not only just reviving the building but the whole area. The outsiders enjoy multiple layers of content, first exploring the abandoned building and where it used to be the ‘Fish Palace’ inspiring the new generation through a fun approach. Secondly, we want people to realise that there are also unused places like this in other areas. This exhibition is not only presenting excitement for the visitors but we want it to become a platform for younger generations to pick up the concept and develop further in their area. Lastly, for anyone interested, you should join a conversation with the members of Kesorn Lamphu Club about the origin of the School uniforms store, Crispy Pancakes, and Khao Chae. You can have fun in those multiple layers, just have to see what your interest lies.”

 

New World x Old Town Part 2 is held at Bang Lamphu intersection, at the old New World Department store building from 5-13 February 2022 at 17.00-21.00. Don’t miss out on finding out how art and design can revive the old building back to life again.


Urban Ally

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