Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Charoen Rath Theater - Korat, Thailand

While still in mourning over the loss of the Siam Theater, it's about time to move on. Heart-wrenching images of its charred lobby will only weigh on morale if left to hang in the open indefinitely. Anyway, a future blight is in need of addressing. In the wake of the Siam Theater tragedy talk is once again stirring of a "Master Plan" to raze all of Siam Square and replace it with a shopping mall in the next few years. Presumably that means that Lido and Scala will be obliterated along the way, forever slamming the door on Bangkok's stand-alone movie theater culture.

The "Master Plan" was conceived by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, essentially the office of urban planning, and has been on the drawing board for some time. In my interview with Apex's managing director last May she hinted at this bleak future. Hopefully the plan will be reconsidered.

In the meantime, feast your eyes on the Charoen Rath Theater - a 1950's gem in the center of Korat.

Movies haven't screened at the Charoen Rath for a decade or more, and it's since been taken over by a motorcycle dealership, but the facade is still largely intact, including the free standing letters on the roof. Most of the surrounding neighborhood is likewise well preserved, providing a living time capsule of post-Second World War Korat. Pedestrian friendly and loaded with architectural eye candy, this neighborhood - just north of the Lady Mo monument - deserves a stroll if you're in the vicinity.

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