Selection Criteria of Ordinary Urban Heritages Through the Case of Bangrak, a Multi-Cultural & Old Commercial District of Bangkok

Main Article Content

Prin Jhearmaneechotechai


This paper examines preservation of an old and multicultural commercial district of Bangrak, Bangkok through application of ordinary urban heritage, which is an alternative approach, but one which can fill a gap in the heritage conservation process. The dual objectives of this paper are 1. Introducing an alternative lens for considering the heritages of ordinary people in an urban context through the case of Bangrak in Bangkok, Thailand; and 2. Identifying selection criteria of ordinary urban heritages. 

Bangrak, the study area, is an old commercial district of inner Bangkok that is characterized by diversity in the different groups who live and work there, their cultures, and their heritages. This paper studied four areas comprising groups whose members originated from China, India-South Asia, Western countries, and Thailand.  

The ordinary urban heritages discussed in this paper are outcomes of identifying selection criteria based on the methodology of three processes: (1) theoretical reviews of vernacular heritage, ordinary heritage, and urban heritage, making use of AHD (Authorised Heritage Discourse) to distinguish “official” heritages identified by Thai government agencies, and the ordinary urban heritages of Bangrak. (2) analysis of historical maps, and (3) non-participant observational surveys to verify locations and appearances of ordinary urban heritages identified by the analysis of historical maps. 

The selection criteria of ordinary urban heritages of Bangrak are outcomes of five factors: (1) The amount of time the heritage has been present in the area, (2) Heritages of ordinary people, (3) Repetitive appearance or cluster of heritages, (4) Ability to adapt to urbanization, and (5) Present-day existence of heritages in four areas of different cultures.  

The ordinary urban heritages identified as the result of selection criteria comprise shophouses, urban patterns of “Trok” (small alleys), and sacred places in the communities.  As buildings, shophouses are, per se, ordinary urban heritage from a physical aspect, and they are the centers of the commercial activities of everyday life. “Trok”, or small alleys, have been built by ordinary people, and they help form the particular urban pattern of Bangrak. Small sacred places represent a legacy of the beliefs of different cultures represented through their physical spaces and appearances. 


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Jhearmaneechotechai, P. (2022). Selection Criteria of Ordinary Urban Heritages Through the Case of Bangrak, a Multi-Cultural & Old Commercial District of Bangkok. Nakhara : Journal of Environmental Design and Planning, 21(2), Article 209.
Research Articles


Agarwal, R. (2018). Breaking the links? A case study of the Indian diaspora in Thailand. Journal of global analysis, 8(2), (summer issue), 129–143.

Amphanwong, S. (1996). Phraphūm čhaothī [Spirit House]. Kurusapa Business Organization.

Auclair, E., & Fairclough, G. (2015). Theory and practice in heritage and sustainability: Between past and future. Routledge. https://doi:10.4324/9781315771618

Beg, M. (2016). Issues of conservation and adaptation in protecting Kashmir's vernacular heritage. International Journal of Environmental Studies, 73(4), 524–532. http://doi:10.1080/00207233.2016.1178986

Blum, S. D. (1997). Naming practices and the power of words in China. Language in Society, 26(3), 357–379. https://doi:10.1017/s0047404500019503

Brosius, C., & Michaels, A. (2020). Vernacular heritage as urban place-making. Activities and positions in the reconstruction of monuments after the Gorkha earthquake in Nepal, 2015–2020: The case of Patan. Sustainability, 12(20), 8720. https://doi:10.3390/su12208720

Carlos, G. D., Correia, M., Dipasquale, L. & Mecca, S. (2020). Discovering Vernacular Heritage and its tangible dimensions. In L. Dipasquale, S. Mecca, & M. Correia (Eds.), From Vernacular to World Heritage (pp. 39–43). Florence: Firenze University Press.

Charter on the built vernacular heritage (1999).

Clair, K. S. (2016). The secret lives of colour. John Murray.

Correia, M., Dipasquale, L. & Mecca, S. (Eds.) (2014). Versus. Heritage for Tomorrow. Vernacular Knowledge for Sustainable Architecture. Firenze University Press.

Dallen, T. J. (2014). Views of the vernacular. Tourism and heritage of the ordinary. In A. M. Jaime Kaminski, Contemporary Issues in Cultural Heritage Tourism (pp. 32–44). Routledge.

Department of Religious Affairs. (2009). Phithīkam læ praphēnī [Ritual and Tradition]. The Agricultural Co-Operative Federation of Thailand Publishing. Museumsiam.

Geppert,A., & and Lorenzi, E. (2013). Everyday's heritage, a renewed challenge for european planners. Bulletin de l'Association de Géographes Français, 90-2, 170–185.

Herzfeld, M. (2010). Engagement, gentrification, and the neoliberal hijacking of history. Current Anthropology, 51, Supplement 2, 259–267. https://doi:10.1086/653420

Khafizova, A. (2018). Vernacular architectural preservation of material and spiritual interconnected cultural heritage. Journal of Contemporary Urban Affairs, 2(3), 10–19. https://doi:10.25034/ijcua.2018.4714

Khalaf, M. (2016). Urban heritages and vernacular studies parallel evolution and shared challenges. International Society for the Study of Vernacular Settlements, 4(3), 39–51.

McGuigan, J. (Ed.) (2014). Raymond williams on culture & society: Essential writings. Chapter 1: Culture is Ordinary (1958) SAGE Publications Ltd, 1–18

Orbasli, A. (2000). Tourists in historic towns: Urban conservation and heritage management. E&EN Spon.

Papadam, M. (2017). Culture for life: Strategies for using cultural heritage sites as drivers of sustainable urban [re]development in Piraeus, Greece, Faculty of Architecture and the Bulit Environment European Post-master in Urbanism (EMU), Delf University of Technology.

Patpong Museum. (2020). Patpong Museum.

Podder, A. K., Hakim, S.S. & Bosu, S.P. (2018). Ordinary heritage. Archnet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research, 12(2), 334–346.

Promotion and Conservation of Intangible Cultural Heritage Act, (2016).

Promotion of Cultural Diversity in Kosovo. (2012). Guidelines on cultural heritage: Technical tools for conservation and management. JP-EU/ CoE Support to the promotion of cultural diversity (PCDK).

Sapu, S. (2018, May-August). The Vernacular City as Ordinary Cultural Heritage. Journal of Mekong Socieries, 14(2), 63–90.

Smith, L. (2015). Intangible heritage: A challenge to the authorised heritage discourse? Revista d’Etnologia de Catalunya, 40, 133–142.

Sprinkle, J. H. (2007). “Of Exceptional Importance”: The Origins of the “Fifty-Year Rule” in Historic Preservation. The Public Historian, 29(2), (Spring 2007), 81–103. doi:10.1525/tph.2007.29.2.81

The Ancient Monuments, Antiques, Objects of Art, and National Museum Act, B.E. 2504, (1992).

The Fine Arts Department. (2007). Handbook of registration of antiques and objects of art. Bangkok.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. (2011). Recommendation on the historic urban landscape. UNESCO.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. (2019). The UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape: Report of the second consultation on its implementation by member states. UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

Vegas, F., Mileto, C., Diodato, M., & Gonzales, J. M. S. (2020). Understanding the dimension of historical evolution. In L. Dipasquale, S. Mecca, & M. Correia (Eds.), From Vernacular to World Heritage (pp. 45–51). Firenze University Press.

Watson, R. S. (1986). The named and the nameless: Gender and person in Chinese society. American Ethnologist, 13(4), 619–631.

Yanyongkasemsuk, R. (2016). Culture, Conflict and Representation. Burapha Journal of Political Economy, 4(2), 31–56.