Spatial patterns of shop-houses: A case study of traditional and contemporary shop-houses in southern Thailand



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Texas Tech University


The shop-house is one of the most common types of dwelling in Asian cities, especially among Chinese immigrants. Its "live-work" environment suggests certain social and cultural aspects embedded in this unique type of dwelling. This dissertation elaborates on some of the results of a study which examined the pattern of spatial configuration based on the use of space and the type of activities performed in shop-houses in Thailand. The study investigated whether this pattern has changed over time, and if so, how and why. Also, it examined whether the effect of cultural behavior of different social groups has determined the spatial organization of space within shophouses.

Space Syntax analysis was applied to a sample of 74 shop-houses, both old and new, in three different areas in southern Thailand. The study focused on nine primary functions of activity patterns, i.e., buying and selling (shop); washing, laundering, and drying clothes; food preparation and cooking; eating; entertaining guests; sleeping; bathing; family living; circulation-corridors and stairs.

Among the findings are the underljdng principles of social and cultural dimensions that govern the pattern of spatial configuration of Thai shophouses. High difference factors across the samples indicate the weak degree of differentiation among space use pattern resulting in uniform spatial structure of space use pattern and multifunctional space within shop-houses. Also, the results show that although the forms as well as the elements of the dwellings have been altered over time, the pattern of spatial configuration and space use pattern within shop-houses, as the indirect expression of social and cultural aspects generally prevail.



Thailand, Dwellings, Space