Beige or Nothing: Old Town Buildings Must Be Same Color, Gov’t Says

A row of shophouses on Atsagang Road on April 30. Photo: Metropolitan Electricity Authority
A row of shophouses on Atsagang Road on April 30. Photo: Metropolitan Electricity Authority

BANGKOK — New buildings around the historic area of Rattanakosin Island must be painted beige with tiled dark grey roofs, according to a new ministerial directive announced Friday.

The specifications are part of government plans to revitalize the old town area into something comparable to Champs-Elysees in Paris. The initiative is spearheaded by deputy junta chairman Prawit Wongsuwan, who has said the aim is to “keep the order and aesthetics of the capital, which will boost tourism to the nation’s historical and cultural attractions.”

The colors reflect the style of Rama V-era buildings like the Ministry of Defence and shophouses on Tanao Road. The directive also prohibits disturbances to building facades such as awnings, air conditioner compressors, and antennas.

Speaking to the media in 2018, Department of City Planning director Sakchai Boonma said the vision is to change Bangkok’s Old City into an area of cultural and historic buildings like the Champs-Elysees.

The directive covers all buildings within the limits of Phadung Krungkasem Canal – known locally as Rattanakosin Island – and certain areas across the Chao Phraya River from the historic quarter. Only some historical buildings, museums, and places of worship are exempt.

Only new buildings are affected by the directive, which is not retroactive. But existing buildings are not allowed to make modifications that violate the regulations, according to the announcement published in the Royal Gazette.

Government institutions affected by the refurbishment plans have already begun searching for new homes. On Monday, it was reported that the Ministry of Interior will be moved from Atsadang Road to a plot of land near Iconsiam shopping mall.