Baan Xavier: A Modern Roman Catholic Church Architecture in Thailand

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Supawan Pundi

Abstract

         This paper studies the architectural works of Baan Xavier Church, designed by Professor Emeritus Captain Krisda Arunvongse Na Ayudhya in 1971. The paper questions the combined characteristics of modern international architecture and Thai architecture as exemplified by Baan Xavier Church. Drawing upon documents and interviews architects and priests involved in the project, this paper aims to understand the dual aspects of the church and to analyze their relationship, which will lead to a better understanding about the unique characteristics of the modern Roman Catholic Church in Thailand.


         The study found that circumstances which gave rise to the mingled characteristics of Baan Xavier Church were fourfold: Firstly, the event of the Second Vatican Council which established the conceptual framework for creating sacred spaces in modern Roman Catholic Church; Secondly, the Policy of the Government of Thailand which focused on economic and social development, while at the same time creating Thai identity. The Catholic Church in Thailand adopted the ideas by adapting Thai architectural elements in the creation of modern Roman Catholic Churches. Thirdly, the Jesuits’s encouragement for young generation to develop themselves based on democratic concepts by establishing Baan Xavier as the student centre for intellectual activities; Fourthly, the architect’s idea in designing Baan Xavier Church, focusing on dimensions of continuation, modification, reinvention which led to the combination between the internationalism and local Thai aspects of the church. 


         The finding drawn is that the architect combined international aspects of modern architecture with Thai characters, commonly found in almost all regions in Thailand, resulting in the new style of church architecture where internationalism and localism coexist. 

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บทความ