New Lease of Life for Bangkok’s Old Warehouses
Until recently, the standard approach to dealing with old dilapidated buildings in Bangkok – which in many cases were abandoned decades ago and are now slowly rotting away – was to just knock them down to make way for almost any architecturally non-descript real-estate eyesore that could gain planning permission.
However, this year has seen some very welcome developments, with several derelict sites of historical interest being renovated and reconstructed to fulfil new and worthwhile functions. Khiri Travel Thailand recently visited a couple of these fascinating sites: Warehouse 30 and Lhong 1919 – two WWII-era warehouse complexes that have received the magic touch of Duangrit Bunnag, one of Thailand’s leading architects.
Duangrit has been working to rebuild a number of these Bangkok warehouses, and these two sites have been elegantly reinvented as a collection of funky stores, restaurants, art galleries and more. Located in Bangkok’s Bangrak district on Charoen Krung, Soi 30 – from which it gets its name – Warehouse 30’s interior offers a cool variety of handicrafts, ranging from handmade furniture to bags, flowers, vintage WWII army surplus and even classic Chevrolets. Exhibitions and movie screenings are also being planned, and of course, there are several fancy eateries and tasteful coffee shops to relax in.
Only a short walk and ferry ride way in Khlong San district on the other side of the river is Lhong 1919, which only opened last week. Local award-winning interior design firm PIA Interior took a different approach here with a piece of land belonging to the local Wanglee family. Consisting of a number of traditional Chinese style warehouses, as well as the well-known shrine of Mazu (the Chinese sea goddess), the interior designers transformed the area into a modern community space, while still respecting its cultural and historical roots.
Lhong 1919 was built in 1850 during a time which saw a huge influx of Chinese immigrants coming to Bangkok, many of whom were traders. Where possible, much of Lhong 1919’s original structure has been preserved and the resulting effect is a stunning mix of the old and new. In some of the buildings centuries-old murals were discovered underneath layers of excess paint and tastefully restored. In other parts, door frames, windows, interior walls were purposefully left in their original state to great effect. The overall result is a true celebration of the 167 years of Thai-Chinese history. Like Warehouse 30, Lhong 1919 – which is also close by to The Jam Factory – features some fascinating shops and fancy eateries, with the shrine of Mazu proudly taking center stage!
Both places are worth a visit for FITs and can be incorporated into some of our day excursions. Warehouse 30 is already part of our new Bangrak walking tour.
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