A network of civic groups staged a demonstration at the Supreme Court yesterday aimed at preventing the building's demolition.
Security guards block the entrance to one of the main Supreme Court buildings on Ratchadamnoen Road.Agroup of civic networkmembers picketed outside the court to oppose the demolition of the old courthouseyesterday. APICHART JINAKUL
They called for an immediate suspension of demolition work under way to its old courthouse which is categorised as an historical structure.
It's the first demonstration by the network, comprising the Civic Society Planning Network, Icomos, the Association of Siamese Architects, Society for Conservation of National Treasure and the Environment (Sconte), and the Bangkok Forum.
They want the old courthouse, a complex of buildings which was first constructed in 1939 to celebrate the country's judicial sovereignty, to be saved. The Supreme Court intends building a new complex with a height of almost 32m on the site.
The demolition began two months ago on the building that once served as the Criminal Court.
The court has ignored repeated warnings by the Fine Arts Department that the structure, which was built in the style of "modern architecture", is regarded as an historical building under the Historical Objects and Historical Buildings Conservation Act. The judiciary says that because the structure has not been registered, it can be torn down.
"The judiciary and the Fine Arts Department differ over the building's status, so the demolition work must be halted," Chatri Prakitnonthakarn, a lecturer at Silpakorn University's Architecture Faculty, said.
"Do not do anything with the building until both sides can agree on what the courthouse really is under the law, and then work out the next step together," he said.
Mr Chatri also urged the Committee on the Conservation of Rattanakosin and Old Towns to step in to the row.
The City Building Code that restricts the height of buildings in the area to 16m was adopted on the advice of the panel.
Sconte president Chula Sudbantad said the old courthouse is a national treasure that should be kept.
"We should not destroy it and leave only photos of the courthouse for the next generation to see," she said.
Ms Chula said the court should allow the public to have a say on what to do with such a significant national heritage item. The Supreme Court sent a representative to receive a protest letter from the network members.
Human Rights Commissioner Niran Pitakwatchara has summoned all parties to join a meeting on Monday to find a way out.
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- Writer: Ploenpote Atthakor
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