The Urban Revitalization of Chiang Mai Old Town is the project that emphasizes economic district development which can create opportunities and build an advantage to the economic situation. Through the integration of urban elements between the values of old contexts and new ones. Nowadays, Chiang Mai has an important role as the largest city in Northern Thailand and officially recognized as a Creative City of Craft and Folk art. The economic instability situation in Chiang Mai is one of the most important issues that highly dependent on tourism sector and the hardest part is how to drive the economy along with maintaining the uniqueness of the city. Therefore, the development of both important sectors: Local Economy and Tourism have to build a district core which has high concentration of activity, various of people, and flexible space.
A conceptual framework creating an innovative handicraft: Craft-Tech district through the use of urban planning tools such as urban rehabilitation and conservation, with four main concepts: First, Creative City/Creative Economy, which places creativity and cultural industries at the local level and actively cooperates at the international level. Second, The Innovation District, which facilitates the creation and commercialization of new ideas and also supports metropolitan economies by growing jobs in ways that leverage their distinct economic attributes. Third, New Urbanism, which will promote street activities and revitalize the city. Lastly, The Image of the city, which will encourage the old town landscape to be meaningful and will connect all of urban elements to become a new city branding.
At the present, the district is unable to support new types of manufacturing activities because most of the buildings are shophouses and small commercial buildings with low ceiling shopfront, whereas the demands of use need larger spaces and more diverse. Thus, to make a consistent with existing activities in the old area, new program must be an activity that able to create a positive effect to the economy. Accordingly, this study is aim to create a business model of an innovative handicraft: Craft-Tech district in the production of natural materials textures and textiles through a five-step process, starting from extracting cooperation from production area. In site programs will start with the creation of innovation attraction to bring cooperation and exchange the local knowledge with new innovative ideas.
This project brings the concept of developing a new district within the old city with a harmonious blend of people and activities based on the original potential of the area focusing on the development of 3 key elements:
- Densification of old buildings: creating high development potential according to the building rehabilitation development strategies: 3 steps, which starting from bringing the old building and adjust the usable area such as maximize building floors, consolidate floors and zoning to separate different type of use or ownership and reduce waste space by dividing a space for rent. Then, increasing the usage efficiently by holding interesting activities, whether it is adding a mix of use (Mixed use building), Creating ground-level activities, decks/roof activity, and connect space from front to back of building or areas.
- Developing empty spaces or abandoned spaces around buildings to become a public spaces or sharing places among users in the same building group in order to assemble people together and make a lively buzzing atmosphere.
- Creating activities on the main roads/streets to create a vibrant neighborhood which stimulates business atmosphereand creative environment. Last, developing a green-walking network in secondary roads or streets in order to connect the surrounding area and link to the city backbone.
If the physical of the city can be completely developed all of three elements mentioned above, it will drive the use of urban space to its fullest potential and also benefits the owners of buildings in the district to have the opportunity to rent out and generate income from turning the building into investment circulation. So, the tenants, entrepreneurs or small and medium-sized enterprises, who want to rent a space in the heart of city, can rent at a lower price and can have various choices: according to densification and rehabilitation strategies because they can afford a space that suited their purposes in the appropriate sizes and prices which is better than renting a whole building or buying a whole building with high cost of investment. All processes will be controlled under the city planning mechanism, including the framework for conservation and development by defining physical control characteristics (Overlay Control) as well as creating design guidelines for the district.
In conclusion, for the development of Craft-Tech district following by the proposals mentioned above, it is necessary to start from building cooperation in all sectors including the public, private, community and institutional organizations in order to create opportunities for economic recovery by creating an innovative handicraft district that builds on the city’s original roots in being an old commercial business area full of knowledges, local heritages, skills workers, and rich resources of producing materials textures and textiles to work together effectively and create a neighborhood that is the heart of sustainable urban economic stimulation.