The study of neighborhood and the sustaining network of local knowledge: the case of “Wua-Lai” silver craft neighborhood, Chiang Mai province


  • Komson Teeraparbwong Faculty of Architecture, Chiang Mai University
  • Pranom Tansukanun Faculty of Architecture, Chiang Mai University
  • Pijika Pumketkao Lecourt École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris-Belleville (Ensa-PB), France; Architecture Urbanisme Société Savoirs Enseignement Recherche Research Unit (UMR AUSser, CNRS France)


Wua-Lai neighborhood, silversmith craft, Chiang Mai, Wat Sri-Supan, Wat Muen-Sarn


This research is an action-research within Wua-Lai neighborhood, one of the significant old areas of Chiang Mai old town. The areas are artisan-family bases specializing in silver craft skills to serve the city. The research examines the subject of “Neighborhood” focusing on two neighbors, namely Wat Sri-Suphan and Wat Muen-Sarn. The neighborhoods have their special skills inherited from “Tai-Shan” silversmith village who immigrated to Chiang Mai by King Kawila’s strategy of rebuilding the city of Chiang Mai with his concept of “collecting people to fill the city”. At the present, Wua-Lai has gone through significant socio-economic transformation and urban change that have caused the response to the crisis by developing the temple-oriented neighborhood projects, aiming at reviving the silver craft productions, preserving and transmitting the craft skills as key sources for local organizations and knowledge sustaining approaches. This has created a So-called “Neighborhood Development Model”. The research raises questions about how the neighborhood constructed the network relationships of the silversmith knowledge sharing and maintaining their craftmanship upon the existence of neighborhood’s role of silversmith kills and products making process, which are the main area’s characteristics and heritage with Buddhist temples as a center of the neighborhoods’ life and social relation within the area. There are two consequent findings. The first is about the grassroot movements that are collaborated by developing local projects and these have formed local organizations. The second deals with the interconnection between neighborhood and contemporary city of Chiang Mai over tourism development which had led to the revival of local craft productions and heritage conservation, also sustaining the local silversmith knowledge in the future.


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