Bangkok’s historic art deco theater ‘Scala cinema’ doomed to become Central mall

Construction News
Cinemagoers in front of Scala cinema in early July 2020 during its last week of operation. Photo: Coconuts Bangkok

Bangkok’s historic art deco theater ‘Scala cinema’ doomed to become Central mall

Confirming the worst suspicions, reports say a historic art deco theater from Bangkok’s golden age of cinema will soon be replaced by a shopping mall.

Chulalongkorn University, which owns the land under Siam Square, has leased the spot occupied for 51 years by Scala theater, which closed last year, to Central Pattana, the nation’s largest retail property developer, which said it would try to preserve some of Scala’s architecturally significant elements.

There were many critical reactions to the news since yesterday, including from well-known film buff Noridha Ruencharoen, aka “Earth Oscar.”

“This country likes to claim it loves culture and wants to preserve the culture, but it’s likely that will never be a space for contemporary art and culture that is truly a space for the public. There are only department stores owned by the capitalists,” he tweeted.

Central Pattana will lease and develop Siam Square’s Block A for 30 years. Its 7 rai (1.1 hectares) and 31 square wah area includes the Scala and 79 other buildings currently occupied by restaurants, clinics, banks and cram schools.

A representative with Chulalongkorn’s Property Management office could not be immediately reached for comment.

A Central Pattana source told Matichon that the company plans to renovate Scala as a small community mall that is anticipated to open in 2023. It promised to keep Scala’s structure as close to the original.