Friday, December 13, 2013

The Khosit Theater - Ban Pong, Ratchaburi, Thailand

As a professional art form, architecture is taken quite seriously in Thailand. Although the most highly touted architectural works in the country tend to relate to the national narrative - generally either royalty or religion - there is a wide range of world-class work outside of that limited scope. 

Modern architecture, in particular, is especially well represented throughout Thailand. Most Thai towns are, in fact, comprised largely of various offshoots of that broadly defined school known as the"International Style." Though much of it is pure stock in both gauge and dimension, there are truly outstanding pieces all around, some of them tucked away in the most obscure of places.

Ban Pong's Khosit Theater falls into that category: Outstanding obscura. Forgotten, but unique modern Thai architecture.


What is it about the Khosit that makes it so architecturally special? For one, you seldom see buildings with this kind of top-heavy massing . The brutally heavy upper bulk seems to float weightlessly over the empty lower lobby. From this perspective, the Khosit appears as if the foundation was raised up and left suspended in the air. 

But the contrast between the bulky top and empty bottom is tied together by the wrap-around marquee and strip of windows set between the two. The marquee, it should be noted, protrudes out around the edges, while the windows are set back. One is reminded of a cold-cut slice sticking out from the enclosing bread.

Add some asymmetry to the package, along with a softly curved corner (to lessen the severity of and the bulk) and the Khosit stands out as a highly sophisticated structure. The roof-top signage, moreover, with the lettering done on large squares of metal, matches the bulkiness below. 

The Khosit Theater has a language all of its own.

 

The Khosit Theater from a slight distance.


Thai modernism often does not get its due credit. Case in point, the Khosit.

The Khosit was the last of three theaters to be erected in Ban Pong, one of Ratchaburi's most industrial districts. It's age and any additional background data were unavailable, though conjecture dates it to about 1980, give or take a few years.


Rails for skate kids at the Khosit.

Though utterly abandoned, the Khosit holds the unique distinction among Thai movie theaters of being the only former cinema in the country that has been co-opted by the local skateboarding community. Every evening, the lower lobby serves as a refuge for local skate kids. Ollies and tailslides abound in a space once reserved for passive waiting and socializing. 

A pair of rails and a ramp, used for stake tricks, attest to this new found use.

Skate culture often goes hand in hand with graffiti culture, which too has taken root in the abandoned Khosit.
  

Graf


Main staircase leading to upper lobby.


Lobby tagging


Signs of cinema still abound among some newer graffiti. 


Stairs leading to the auditorium, all tagged up.


The upper lobby at the Khosit Theater is gated off. The large entrance leads to the auditorium.


Softer light


Upper bulk of the Khosit Theater. Brutally beautiful.


Signage

Modern Thai architecture wears a unique visage in the Khosit Theater. 

2 comments:

  1. Writing this from nearby Tha Rua, Kanchanaburi Province. I particularly like the Mercedes Benz emblem-like window to the left of this building.

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  2. From some angles, the theater looks like a whale, with the Benz emblem serving as its eye.

    On an aside, there is an old theater in Tha Rua as well. The Mongol Rama.

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