An architecture expert has lashed out at the Supreme Court's decision to proceed with the demolition of its old building, which he regards as an historically important structure.
ERASING HISTORY: Demolition of the old Supreme Court building is likely to take four months.
Demolition of the old Supreme Court building in the Rattanakosin area has started and is expected to take about four months.
But Chatri Prakitnonthakan, a lecturer at Silpakorn University's Architectural Art Faculty who has campaigned for the conservation of the building, said the structure that will take its place ''lacks legitimacy''.
With a planned height of 32m, the new court building will violate the building code set by the Committee for the Conservation of Rattanakosin and Old Towns. The code sets a height limit of 16m for any structure in the inner part of the Rattanakosin area.
''The building code has been in use for nearly 30 years, and every state agency has strictly observed it,'' Mr Chatri said.
''But the judiciary has chosen to breach the code, citing a cabinet resolution, to go ahead with its plan.'' He said Thammasat University had adhered to the code when it decided to move its Rangsit campus, and accused the court of having double standards. The university had wanted to construct several tall buildings to accommodate its expansion plans.
Mr Chatri warned the court's move would set a precedent for other agencies wishing to construct tall buildings in the Rattanakosin area.
He called for the court to suspend the demolition of the historic building, which has been officially recognised for its historical and architectural value.
Built in 1939 by the Pibulsonggram government to celebrate the return of Thailand's judicial sovereignty, the Supreme Court building received a conservation award from the Association of the Siamese Architects (ASA) in 2009.
Mr Chatri said the building should be restored rather than demolished.
He also demanded the Supreme Court prove it had received consent from the Fine Arts Department to tear down the structure.
Former Supreme Court president Sawat Chotipanich earlier told media outlets that the department had ''agreed that the old building had to be demolished''.
But Mr Chatri disputed this, saying the Fine Arts Department had said otherwise. He cited an earlier interview given by department chief Sahawat Naenna, who said the building was protected by the 1961 Historic Buildings and Historic Artefacts Act.
Earlier this month, the ASA and the Society for the Conservation of National Treasures and Environment (Sconte) stepped up their call for state agencies _ including the Fine Arts Department and the National Human Rights Commission _ to intervene and block the Supreme Court's demolition plan.
Sconte also plans to submit a petition to the Administrative Court seeking to block the demolition.