"Community Development for Urban Conservation
in Laos and Its Policy"
Dasack Outhenthapanya, Professor, Dept. of Architecture, National University
Now I will explain the concept of urban development. Development has
various meanings. Someone says that the urban development refers to
GDP as an economic index, and another says that it is for happiness
Urban development indicates to conserve urban identity, cultural practice,
and civilization. As a whole, it should aim to provide inhabitants
with living in rich urban culture.
In Laos, the government policy of development is to keep balance;
Achieving good balance between economic development and social conservation,
and utilizing limited resources effectively.
In the next place, I will analyze the meaning of conservation.
I think conservation has two phases: shallow and deep. "Deep" conservation
relates to the elements which can be visibly checked from outer wall.
This type of conservation can be kept in records as conservation activity.
Generally, "shallow" conservation is used as development
measure. This type of conservation is for promoting economy; in deeper
meaning, it serves for maintaining records of successful culture of
the world. This equals to the goal of development.
G_rlitz is an important medieval city of Germany from the viewpoint
of development and conservation. German government has focused on the
city's conservation. Most of the buildings within the city are retained
in good condition. However, thirty percent of buildings located in
the old city core are abandoned. Most of inhabitants moved to other
towns, and the area lost its economic functions. Another fine example
is an old Italian town, Simona. The local government also focuses on
environmental conservation and the city is kept in good condition.
However, many young people moved to larger city for study or work.
Next example is Hoi An, the town in the middle of Vietnam. The town
is a port town once flourishing with commerce. The town is named to
the UNESCO list of world heritage. At present, the town has been developed
as tourist spot, Retaining traditional living and activities of inhabitants.
Many tourists are visiting Hoi An and providing activities, while the
city's landscape and living habitats have been well conserved until
now. However, Hoi An has another problem relating to communal development.
Regulation of construction is not strictly established. As a result,
buildings which have negative effect on the landscape have been more
and more built. In addition, environmental pollution including air
pollution is serious. Rapidly increasing litter during recent fifteen
years is beyond reach of waste disposal services. The local government
had to prepare storage site for litter in the rural area.
In the last place, Luang Phabang of Laos.The city inscribed on the
World Heritage List, Is located in the north area of Laos, at the confluence
of Mekong River and Nam Khan River. Luang Phabang is the old city influenced
by France in colonial period. The major reasons of being inscribed
on World Heritage List, are : Its urban structure, architecture and
natural environment. The urban conservation of Luang Phabang has focused
on conservation of urban structure. In the workshop held in October
2006 on the theme of urban conservation of Luang Phabang, it was clarified
that tourism development had made positive impact on conservation of
buildings, at the same time increased income of citizens.
On the other hand, investment of tourist agents changed citizens'
facilities into buildings mainly used by tourists such as hotels, restaurants,
etc. The key concern is the adverse effect on the cultural heritages.
The tourism development moved inhabitants of conservation areas into
other areas, while new comers do not participate in the community.
Luang Phabang used to be an old core religious town of Laos, and agricultural
city; but it has become a tourist site, changing its economic activities.
Though outer conservation has been made, real values of the city have
been gradually lost. How tourism development can be utilized to ease
such situation? To keep balance of the town, we are sure that mixed
land use will be required to conserve valuable cultural living and
original values of the city. By mixing old culture and new culture,
diversity of the town will be increased. If the development ensures
citizens to participate in the community, and to have higher earnings,
they will not have to move to other towns. They will be able to conserve
their communities in this way. The tourism based on communities realized
by citizens, does not only increase the income of citizens, but also
makes tourists feel like inhabitants through pseudo-community. In summary,
the basic conservation is outer and economic conservation, which is
deeply related to tourism, though it is not for gathering tourists.
The next goal is to conserve citizen's living habits. Conserving old
town is very interesting work for us.
After the outer conservation, development should aim to conserve real
meaning of tourist site, and finally, conserve secondarily. Intensive
conservation is equal to mere outer conservation. We do not have sufficient
funds to conduct both outer and inner conservation.
To develop community, how can we develop framework? We need to consider
how and what to do for human, architecture and urban environment, realizing
secondary development including cultural, economic, social and environmental
conservation, as well as increasing resources.
"Vientiane: Issues for Urban Renovation-Relationship
Among Time, People and Space"
Soukanh Chithpanya, Dept. of Architecture, National University of Laos
Vientiane has been the capital of Laos (former Lanexang Kingdom) since
1560, and located along the bank of the Mekong River. I will analyze
the urban renovation of Vientiane from various viewpoints, including
morphology, social logistics, and philosophy.
From the morphological viewpoint, I focused on time. The urban organization
of Vientiane has been made up of various layers. Based on the traditional
pattern of settlement, the influence of Khumer Empire and China were
added; furthermore, on the urbanization of French Colonial Era, the layer
of recent redevelopment was piled. I will consider resources including
urban or architectural legacy as the diachronic memory of the city. The
resources consist of macro level (ruins of ancient fort walls and canals)
and micro level (open spaces, city blocks and buildings). Furthermore,
I want to emphasize the importance of urban legacy and architectural
legacy for urban planning and design.
When comparing urban structures of Luang Phabang, Chiangmai, Sukhothai,
Ayutthaya and Bangkok, we will notice that Chiangmai and Sukhothai have
rectangular city walls, affected by Khumer Empire. It is natural to assume
that the emperor who had been a king of Chiangmai, moved the capital
to Vientian, and built the city influenced by the concept of urban planning
of Chiangmai. However, what Vientian and Chiangmai have in common remains
to be seen.
When Vientian became the capital, royal palace was built along the Mekong
River, and the temple called Ho Pha Keo was built as the place of prayer
for the king. Many temples were built along the Mekong and in the surrounding
areas of the royal palace. Settlements were made up around those temples.
From the viewpoint of spatial composition, we will notice that most of
buildings of Vientian face the same direction. Because Laotians live
along the river, their spatial recognitions have been determined by rivers.
They recognize that the direction of upstream is north and downstream
is south; East is where fields spread and west is where the port locates.
The flow of river has affected their spatial recognition and its formation.
Because the Meking flows southeastward in Vientian, buildings were built
facing the same direction.
In the next place, I will analyze the city from sociological viewpoint,
through livings of people. Many common spaces were found in traditional
Laotian settlements where People organized communities. However, along
with the change of life style, such spaces were gradually lost because
of reconstruction and development. The change of traditional lifestyle
(strongly affected by community) into business-oriented one has affected
urban social life. I will analyze the details of those influences. Another
issue is relationship between human and space. Using pictures drawn by
children, I will clarify what spaces are needed by children for improving
In the last place, from the viewpoint of relationship among spaces,
I will analyze how elements of urban design (districts, arrays, landmarks,
connecting points, edges, etc.) serve roles for connectivity of urban
spaces and planning for sustainable development on one hand, and for
identities for places and generation and preservation of social cultural
values of the city on the other.
The air view of Vientian of the 1960's shows original castle walls.
It also clarified that main streets were built influenced by urbanization
in French colonial period. The main street (Lanexang street) was built
vertically from the Mekong River, in imitation of Champs Elysees of Paris.
Patuxai in Lanexang street was built from 1960 as war memorial, which
is considered to be built in imitation of Arc de Triomphe of Paris. The
grid patterns within block structure were influenced by China. At present,
there are several public spaces in Vientian, though such spaces are not
found in suburban villages. The areas to be developed still remain along
Public spaces are necessary because they will play roles to link people.
Therefore, connection of spaces should be well considered in urban planning.
The Patuxai Park in the city center, is located at the crossing point of three
streets. At the planning phase, such way of crossing was not considered yet.
At the edge of direction of the Mekong, a water tank and community tower can
be seen from the park. Toward That Luang Stupa, cars and buildings can be seen
from the park. The way of using spaces and flow lines were not sufficiently planned
How can we connect new and old elements from the diachronic viewpoint? How spaces
and human foster relationship? How urban space should be? We will continue researches
and discussions on those issues.
"Recognition of Citizens on Conservation
of Historical Environment of Luang Phabang and Its Influences."
Somchith Sitthivan, Faculty of Environmental Planning, Dept. of Architecture,
National University of Laos
Luang Phabang is the core city of Northern Laos. It had been developed
as the capital of Lanexang Kingdom during the 14th to 16th century. Unique
traditional cultures, architecture and landscapes have been retained
until now. The city was selected as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
With the cooperation from UNESCO, Laotian government established regulations
relating to architecture, landscape and natural environment.
However, the problem is that the regulations are not be fully complied
with. The economic liberalization in 1986 and designation as World Heritage
Site, led to the modification of buildings for tourism, improvement of
infrastructure, or construction and reconstruction of buildings. This
also resulted to the loss of traditional atmosphere. In this context,
it is important to conserve traditional cultures, architecture, and landscapes.
For future policy, citizens' recognition and participation will be focused.
We conducted researches on citizens' recognition on conservation of
historical heritage conservation area in Luang Phabang, and on landscape
simulation for citizens using CG. Based on the research results, we implemented
image researches, which will provide us keys for public relations policy.
Improvement projects for historical heritage conservation area by UNISCO
and Laotian government include the followings: 1) Plan de Sauvegarde
et de Mise en Valeur (PSMV), 2) establishment of area plans and implementation
of engineering for development and improvement (roads, drainage and street
lighting), 3) PR activities for historical heritage conservation area,
and 4) repair and restoration (especially for temples).
PSMV, which refers to the implementation plan for conservation regulation
and maintenance of values, was implemented in 2001. Part 1 is overview,
part 2 covers regulations, part 3 includes case studies and guidelines,
and part 4 listed registered buildings. The designated area is divided
into four zones: area encircled by the Khan River and the Mekong River
(Ua area), the southern part of Ua area (the right banks of the Khan
River and the Mekong: Ub area), old temple area (M area), and natural
and scenic area (N area). Ua area is the old city core, where important
cultural heritages and traditional buildings remain. The engineering
works for development and improvement by the government and improvement
and restoration works by UNESCO have been implemented for this area.
Landscape simulation research using CG aimed to check variations of
impressions provided by actual picture of the site, CG of current situation
(CG1), and the modified landscape based on conservation regulation (CG2).
In this research, 5 sites and 15 images were given to the person being
tested, who is asked to write down impressions of the images on answer
sheets for 20 questions.
CG2 (modified situation based on PSMV) tended to be classified as "static",
which implies that it provided relatively calm impression. In landscape
simulation, the picture before applying the PSMV tended to be classified
as "static" and after applying as "dynamic"; subjects
seemed to recognized the change well. This research implied that pictures
are appropriate for explaining historical buildings, and CG are efficient
for providing images for modification and future images of streetscapes.
Based on the above research results, we conducted image research on
citizens. This was comprised of questionnaires on impressions of pictures
of the city, and on desired streetscapes and houses.
The pictures included representative landscapes and streetscapes within
the historical heritages conservation area, traditional residences and
recently built houses.
The questionnaires include the followings: 1) Landscape; "Which
landscape gives you the impression unique to Luang Phabang?", 2)
Streetscape; "Which streetscape gives you the impression unique
to Luang Phabang?", 3) Residence; "Which residence gives you
the impression unique to Luang Phabang?", "Which residence
do you want to live in?", and "Which residence is similar to
the one where you live in now?" Among 12 pictures taken within Luang
Phabang, each subject was asked to select one and reason of the choice.
The representative reason of choice for the question, "Which landscape
gives you the impression unique to Luang Phabang?" included nature
and shape of building. For the question, "Which streetscape gives
you the impression unique to Luang Phabang?", shape of building
and calm impression were focused. For the question, "Which residence
gives you the impression unique to Luang Phabang?", stilt house
was selected by the largest numbers of subjects, followed by French colonial
style. For "Which residence do you want to live in?", pseudo-western
house constructed using imported materials, and has recently increased,
was the first choice. For "Which residence is similar to the one
where you live in now?", stilt house came first, and the second
was brick houses, for which citizens built by themselves in many cases.
It was clarified that the image of residences to be conserved has been
shared among citizens through the questionnaire on the residences giving
impressions unique to Luang Phabang. The difference between the residences
unique to the city and the ones where citizens want to live in became
By the researches on landscape simulation and image research of citizens,
we could obtain keys for effective PR activities on historical heritage
conservation areas. This can also become prerequisites for conservation
of traditional architectural morphology.
Many citizens live in traditional buildings in the city. Their living
standards are relatively low and often threatened by bad sanitary conditions.
We should improve livings of citizens while conserving traditional cultures.
It is also required to organize workshops for citizens and committees
among citizens and specialists, and to construct economic system for
supporting those activities.