Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Trisuk Theater - Khamphaeng Saen District, Nakorn Pathom Province, Thailand

Nestled in the heart of Khamphaeng Saen District's central market is a long forgotten piece of entertainment history. To be sure, the amnesia suffered this old building is not solely the result of the passage of time. Since its construction as a movie theater in 1973, the Trisuk Theater has served multiple functions - perhaps more than any theater previously featured on the SEAMTP. Keeping track of all its retrofits is enough to diminish the memory of its cardinal use. But low and behold, the design, gauge, countenance and style of this old building were all employed for the purpose of film.

Like many of Thailand's stand-alone theaters, the Trisuk was built in the middle of an open-air market. 

The former Trisuk Theater, now a parking garage and restaurant.

The architectural language of the Trisuk seems to be a play on its name. "Tri" is from the same etymological root as the "tri" in Western languages, meaning three. Add the suffix "suk," in this case meaning happiness or joy, and you get a rough translation meaning "Three Joys." Now look at the architecture of the building. There are three separate pinnacles to it; a central cornice and two wing cornices. The remaining poster case (below), moreover, has a triangulated top. A possible link between name and design?

Admittedly, this observation might be complete conjecture. But on the other hand, there could be a grain of truth to it.   

A leftover from the Trisuk's movie theater days: a frame for movie posters. 

What we do know for certain about the Trisuk was conveyed by a man who helped construct it back in 1973, later on working at the theater as the in-house poster painter. His wife now operates a small restaurant in what was once the theater's lobby.

Despite its original intent, movie exhibition was short lived at the Trisuk Theater. A mere 10 years after its opening, ticket sales had fallen off so much that the theater was gutted and turned into a swimming pool. Its owner, Mr. Somchai Tri-Amnak - whose family name was inspiration for the Trisuk's name - was apparently keen on supplying the good citizens of Khamphaeng Saen with some form of leisure activity. But the swimming pool, too, was unsuccessful.

Next, Tri-Amnak leased the former theater-turned-swimming pool to a supermarket operator. That lasted a while, but ultimately didn't work out. 

In the end the Trisuk was relegated to the lowest possible function that any building can have. Even lower than a latrine. More ignoble than a warehouse of soiled rags. The Trisuk is now a parking garage.

From movie theater, to swimming pool, to supermarket, to parking garage, with a bit of space for a restaurant.

Even in its current low-brow state, one of the more interesting dimensions of the Trisuk is that remnants of all its iterations are plainly visible at once. The mirror on the far wall, for instance, along with the red stripe circumnavigating the wall are leftovers from its supermarket days. 

The blue and white tiles on the lower half of the structure are the pool, basically as it was. 

All the exterior architecture is the Trisuk Theater in seminal form. 

Counter of the restaurant in the lobby.

Trisuk signage

It seems unlikely that anything exciting will ever become of the Trisuk. Not in the foreseeable future, anyhow. As it stands now, however, with its exterior architecture in good condition, it gives a little clue as to a more lively past in Khamphaeng Saen. If nothing else, maybe somebody will derive a little inspiration from it.

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