Citizen Initiatives for Urban Heritage Preservation: The Case of Kad Kong Ta Neighborhood, Lampang, Thailand


Tuesday, 3 May, 2016 - 16:00 to 16:45

In January 2016, a group of private citizens from the northern Thai city of Lampang created a task force for the preservation of the historical Kad Kong Ta neighborhood, which is located in the old town center beside the Wang river. They invited a group of friends and informal “advisors” to help them produce an action plan for the neighborhood. These people included Paul Rabé (Coordinator of the UKNA network), Kittima Leeruttanawisut, Cornelis Dijkgraaf, Ester van Steekelenburg (Founder and Director of Urban Discovery Asia and iDiscover City Walks) as well as local artists and a team of advisors from the Crown Property Bureau and the National Housing Authority of Thailand.

In this presentation the three speakers will describe the achievements to date of this “citizen initiative for urban heritage preservation” and will critically analyze the advantages and disadvantages, successes and potential pitfalls of such initiatives, using the Lampang experience as an example. The speakers will touch on a number of issues, including: the unique heritage of the Kad Kong Ta neighborhood, with its characteristic wooden houses; its changing local economy and community; the interests guiding the various local stakeholders in the preservation of the historic houses; and the speakers’ own role (and that of other parties) in producing an action plan for the area.

Paul Rabé is the Coordinator of the Urban Knowledge Network Asia (UKNA), based at IIAS. UKNA is a research network on urbanisation in Asia that brings together over 100 researchers from 16 different universities and institutes in India, China, East Asia, Southeast Asia and Europe to produce policy-relevant knowledge on urbanization in Asia. In addition to his work for the UKNA network, Paul is a senior urban land specialist at the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Kittima Leeruttanawisut is a Deputy Director of AIM (Assistance in Implementation and Management—Housing, Heritage and Climate Change for Urban Development). She has a background in urban planning and environmental management. Her major interests are land management, planning, housing, poverty alleviation, climate change and heritage. She got her Master’s degree in urban management from Erasmus University/Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS). She is currently a Ph.D. student at Meijo University in Japan. Her dissertation focuses on the second generation of urban poor in Thailand.

Cornelis Dijkgraaf is an architect/planner and Director of AIM (Assistance in Implementation and Management—Heritage Housing and Climate Change for Urban Development). Before his retirement he served as Director of the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS) in Rotterdam for a period of 19 years. AIM has conducted courses in heritage preservation, urban management, inner city revitalization, local economic development and the consequences of climate change for urban centers all across Southeast Asia. Cor is an honorary member of the Watanyu na Talang Foundation in Thailand and a member of the International Advisory Group of the Yangon Heritage Trust.

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