Project to Revive Thai Traditional Building Craftsmanship for World Heritage Conservation

Project to Revive Thai Traditional Building Craftsmanship for World Heritage Conservation

The conservation of Thailand’s heritage buildings and sites require craft and trade people that are trained with necessary skill-sets to ensure that correct techniques and materials are used. In Thailand, age-old building traditions and skills that were traditionally passed from masters to students are disappearing, leading to an increasing shortage of skilled tradespersons and craftspersons. In addition, the restoration of such places faces a range of challenges, including lack of access to the raw materials as well as a lack of know-how in traditional construction, particularly lime mortar and bricklaying techniques.

UNESCO, therefore, sees that it is imperative that these skills are revived and continued in order to protect Thailand’s valuable and irreplaceable built cultural heritage. It is necessary that our heritage properties are sensitively repaired using context-specific, local or regionally appropriate materials, techniques and methods.

The project to revive Thai traditional building craftsmanship will also assist Thailand in responding to the concern of World Heritage Committee regarding the conservation of the Historic City of Ayutthaya World Heritage Site. During the general conference in Bonn, Germany in July 2015, the World Heritage Committee requested Thailand to "carry out, as a matter of urgency, training programmes to improve the skills and expertise of craftsmen undertaking the conservation activities and to ensure conservation approaches are based on scientific conservation principles and respecting use of traditional materials and skills." The pilot site for this project, therefore, is the Historic City of Ayutthaya World Heritage Site.

The project is generously supported by the Crown Property Bureau. It aims to increase capacity in the safeguarding of Thailand's cultural heritage, in particular World Heritage sites. There are two paths for the implementation:

  1. Increasing awareness and understanding on the international standard of cultural heritage conservation to the conservation project supervisors, foremen and related private companies.
  2. Increasing necessary professional skills for building craftspeople, in order to conduct conservation works more efficiently, including the use of appropriate materials and techniques.

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