Art Identity of Sino-Portuguese Shop Houses in Phuket Town: Problems and Guidelines for Conservation and Tourism Development

  •  Punya Tepsing    


The conservation of Sino-Portuguese shop houses, which attractively show art identity in tourism, is a principle that most people agree with, but there are problems in practice. The aims of this study were to investigate how art identity of Sino-Portuguese buildings could create a tourist atmosphere, and to highlight the problems surrounding the transformation of these buildings into tourist attractions. Data were collected via observation, interviews with 20 building owners and 25 tourists, using descriptive and content analysis. The results showed that the Sino-Portuguese buildings enhance tourism due to several factors. First, they reflect a Chinese style, since the buildings are elaborately decorated with auspicious symbols. Second, a mixture of Chinese and European styles result in unique architecture; classical orders as well as archways are integrated perfectly with the Chinese style. Furthermore, people of the new generation frequently seek reminiscences of the old days. Many Sino-Portuguese shop houses have been renovated to reflect this nostalgia. The problems are a lack of interest from state agencies, a delay in maintenance after being requested, and building owners’ refusal to cooperate. The conservation guidelines should distribute local historical and traditional awareness among the young, set in place a conservation learning process for building owners, and guide the design of new buildings imitating the old style. Additionally, there should be a museum, an art gallery, and a learning center along a pedestrian street, all of which should reflect a certain local identity.

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