ASA has other ideas for Makkasan site

ASA has other ideas for Makkasan site

Heritage centre, botanical park planned

The Association of Siamese Architects (ASA) is preparing to propose an alternative plan for the Makkasan Complex to the State Railway of Thailand (SRT), one that is greener and focused on heritage conservation.

Pongkwan Lassus, ASA's vice-president, said the 400-rai site where the SRT plans to develop the Makkasan Complex Project contains assets worth conserving, including a green area, a cultural heritage site and historically important old buildings.

The Train Repair Plant should be conserved as a cultural heritage site, as it was listed as a conservation building in 2006 by ASA.

The red-brick building represents some of King Rama V's ideas on railway development, said Mrs Pongkwan. Built in 1922, its architecture represents the influence of the Industrial Revolution on Thailand, she added.

The SRT's master plan sees everything on the site removed, with all 400 rai developed for commercial use only. This comprises a commercial zone, an office building called Bangkok Tower, an exhibition zone and Bangkok Fashion zone.

SRT expects to generate 72.83 billion baht in total revenue from a single developer who would win the Makkasan Project's bid for a 30-year concession.

"We will propose a new, more creative idea to the SRT," said Mrs Pongkwan. "It will be a national project to match the national policy on creative economy, but based on cultural heritage."

Mrs Pongkwan wants the Train Repair Plant to be an industrial heritage exhibition, convention centre and a railway museum. It would preserve railway heritage and be used in the same way as the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, she said. The museum would commemorate King Rama V's heritage and be a learning centre for kids.

On the middle of the plot there is currently a green area with a lot of big trees, which should be preserved to help provide more fresh air to Bangkok, she said. She is proposing the area be made into Bangkok Botanical Park.

The park would be a new tourist attraction and learning centre for flora in Bangkok. A collection of tropical plants would showcase Thailand's biodiversity, and the park could be managed by either the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority or a private business.

"This park could generate income the same as parks in Singapore. The big trees on site are a public asset, and we should keep all of them," she said.

The third part of her proposal is a railway and station housing "heritage chic arts & crafts in a lifestyle village". It will be located on the site where 100-year-old wooden houses used by SRT staff are currently located.

She envisions the village as a new tourist attraction with a shopping arcade containing restaurants, arts and crafts shops, and an area where workshops and activities for youths can be held.

Mrs Pongkwan believes it can become a new day or night bazaar, but should be managed properly so it does not turn into another Chatuchak market.

She thinks the area near the Airport Rail Link's Makkasan Station can be developed as a high-density commercial and business complex.

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