Bangkok’s Purple Line plans worry art chiefs

Construction News
The Mahakan Fort in Phra Nakhon district was built during the reign of King Rama I to protect the capital. Out of 14 forts, only two remain today. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Bangkok’s Purple Line plans worry art chiefs

The Fine Arts Department has raised concerns over the need to avoid as many historic sites as possible along a new extension of the Purple Line which will run through Bangkok’s Rattanakosin Island old town area.

The Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA), meanwhile, gave assurances that it shares these concerns and will work closely with the department when drafting proposals for the construction of the new line.

The 101-billion-baht Southern Purple Line (Tao Pun-Rat Burana) is already 8% complete and due to be ready in 2027. The 23.6-kilometre extension comprises 17 stations, of which seven are overland and ten are underground.

However, four of the proposed underground stations, namely Bang Khun Phrom, Phan Fa, Sam Yot and Saphan Phut, are of concern as they will be located in the Rattanakosin Island area, Kittiphan Phansuwan, former director-general of the department, told the Bangkok Post.

“The department is particularly concerned as to how the entrances and exits of these underground stations as well as the stations’ ventilation shafts and vents will be built above the ground,” he said.

The underground stations aren’t much of a concern as the department believes the MRTA has already designed them to avoid the historic sites, he said.

Bang Khun Phrom station will be built very close to one wall of Bang Khun Phrom Palace and the department wants the MRTA to relocate the station’s entrances and exits to ensure the palace’s walls can be kept where they are, he said.

Wang Bang Khun Phrom was built in colonial style during the reign of King Rama V as a mansion for his son, Prince Paribatra Sukhumbhand. The mansion is overseen by the Bank of Thailand today. Jetjaras Na Ranong

The Si Hong printing house, a colonial-style shophouse built during the reign of King Rama V, is also nearby, while the planned site of the Phan Fa station is home to a historic shophouse with a hip roof covered with kite-shaped tiles, he said.

These buildings are both awaiting listing as new historical sites, he said.

Also on the premises is Mahakhan Fort, one of the two remaining historic forts in Rattanakosin Island, he said, adding that a dig will be conducted to see if any remains of the fort’s wall are still underground before the construction of Phan Fa station begins.

Meanwhile, Sam Yot station will be close to Bangkok Remand Prison, which also serves as a corrections museum and is itself awaiting listing as a historic site.

Saphan Phut station lies close to the site of Chak Phet Fort, whose remains are believed to be underground, he said.

MRTA governor Pakapong Sirikantaramas said there is a willingness to redesign some stations to allay the concerns of the department.