Thanick Muenkhamwang Nuttachat Kosintranont Sirichai Roythieng
Chiang Mai was once the Capital of the Lan Na Kingdom. The word “Chiang” means “city surrounded by walls”. Chiang Mai city was built to protect a civilization from impending attacks from its enemies. To build a fortress-city with an almost square plan, with deep-strong walls, a moat, and city gates that lasts to this day clearly demonstrates the vision, commitment, and ingenuity of an ancient community that is truly ahead of their time. But now, what was once the structures that fended off countless attacks and provided refuge for its people are now ruins - the remnants of old Chiang Mai remain idle, frozen in stark contrast to a new city and society that has grown indifferently around it.
Unprecedented technological advancements, globalization, and a rapidly changing society has drastically improved the lives and opportunities of those in present-day Chiang Mai, but the incessant march towards the future has brought new threats and challenges to Chiang Mai’s new way of life. It is now apparent that from the drastic change in society, human-generated pollution is the new force that most significantly threatens our civilization today.
Through our understanding of the vision and wisdom the founders of Chiang Mai, we see that there is a vast body of information and knowledge that can be extracted from Chiang Mai’s societal and architectural heritage. Through the study of Chiang Mai’s culture and heritage, we can see how our society in the past has provided sustainable solutions to challenges and problems. By reexamining Chiang Mai’s societal and architectural heritage, we hope to not only reinvigorate and breathe new life into its culture and tradition, but to also develop a sustainable path to address our current and future challenges.