Evaluation of Mahakan Fort houses under way

Four more houses in the Mahakan Fort community are demolished, including house number 95 that experts had recommended be conserved. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

The evaluation of old houses in the Mahakan community under five criteria is well under way, community leader Tawatchai Voramahakun said on Friday.

The community, academics and City Hall are to meet on May 20 to finalise the evaluation process that was set up to decide which houses are to be spared from state demolition.

Mr Tawatchai and senior city officials met with deputy commander of the 1st Region Army Maj Gen Thammanoon Withee, who visited the community yesterday to inspect progress with the community’s development.

The points used in appraising the remaining 33 houses in the community are values based on history; art and architecture; society and way of life; archaeology, settlement, and city planning; and knowledge.

Both community leader Tawatchai and City Hall officials tried not to mention the fate of the fort dwellers, now comprising 44 families which are to face eviction under City Hall’s development project. The city wanted to maintain only the houses, not the people, according to critics.

Maj Gen Thammanoon who was led on a tour of the community, insisted the government’s intention is to safeguard the well-being of community members.

He appeared open to the idea of people coexisting with the community. However, some of the community members are not eligible to stay on.

Mr Tawatchai said Maj Gen Thammanoon told him “not to leave behind any community members”.

Mr Tawatchai said residents of 30 of the 33 houses are core community members who have played a role in maintaining community spirit.

The community leader said he wished City Hall would allow the community to develop its own Mahakan model in a one-year pilot project.

City Hall originally drew up the development plan ordering the eviction of the community in 1992. Under the plan, the entire area will be turned into a public park.

The eviction began in September last year after a long fight between the authorities and people. Now 33 houses remain.

Houses in the community have been classified according to when they were built: during the reigns of Kings Rama III, IV or V. These houses have been spared the dismantling because of their age and historical and architectural values.