The Preservation of Shophouse Communities in Southern Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore

Pimonsathean, Yongtanit "Mai"
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Presented by Dr. Yongtanit Pimonsathean, Faculty of Architecture and Planning – Thammasat University, Bangkok, Thailand Known as Southeast Asia’s ‘Straits Settlements,’ the shophouse communities in Malaysia, Singapore and southern Thailand share a uniquely architectural and ethnic characteristics as a consequence of European expeditions in the early 16th century. The area was tremendously developed in the late 18th century during the British colonial era, leaving the hybrid Asian-European architecture and culture to become one of the significant heritage places in Southeast Asia. As a counter-balance toward rapid development and urbanization, the preservation program of the remaining shophouses was first drawn and implemented in Singapore in the mid 1980s followed by those in Penang and Melaka in Malaysia and lastly in Phuket in the late 1990s. This presentation deals with historical background of the shophouse communities in the three countries and explains the origin of the so-called ‘Peranakan’ culture and architecture. The different preservation approaches among the three countries, resulting in different outcomes will also be discussed. Dr. Yongtanit Pimonsathean (“Mai”), a member of the Faculty of Architecture and Planning, Thammasat University in Bangkok, earned his Doctor of Engineering in Urban Engineering from The University of Tokyo, Japan in 1993, and also completed a Diploma with Distinction in Urban Management from the Institute for Urban and Housing Studies (IHS) in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. From his base in Thailand, Dr. Pimonsathean has worked extensively on grassroots development planning and preservation projects in Thailand and throughout Southeast Asia. He is currently an executive member of UNESCO Asia-Pacific’s Asian Academy for Heritage Management (AAHM), and holds leading positions in national heritage organizations in Thailand. In 2008 he was awarded the outstanding preservation icon of the Association of Siamese Architects (ASA), and in 2009 he was honored with Thailand’s distinguished Princess Sirindhorn Award for outstanding architect. As a 2009 Thai Fulbright visiting scholar based at Heritage Preservation Program at Georgia State University, he is conducting a research on ‘promoting Private Efforts in Historic Preservation in the U.S.”
Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Shophouses, Architecture, Preservation
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