Chinatown manhole covers to use art, tech to become cultural map

PHOTO: Manhole covers will become a cultural map of Chinatown. (via Nation)

A new blend of utility, art, and technology will transform mundane manhole covers in Bangkok’s Chinatown into beautifying sources of information according to a new plan. Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt met with members of the Office of Thailand Science Research and Innovation as well as Silpakorn University to develop the new project.

The plan is to create beautiful manhole covers in the Charoen Krung, Sampeng, and Yaowarat areas of Chinatown that will allow tourists to discover a cultural map of the neighbourhoods. Each cover will contain not just artwork related to the neighbourhood it is in, but also a QR code tourists or anyone walking by can scan.

The QR code will be linked to information about each unique area in Chinatown, including history, landmarks, and activities, plus a description of the artwork adorning that manhole cover. The information will be made available in Thai, English, and Chinese.

Governor Chadchart intends for the art and tech project to educate tourists on the locales they visit as well as offer a more immersive way to experience the history and culture as visitors stroll through the neighbourhood. In the modern world where people walk glued to their phones, it’s a unique and handy way for them to learn about the avenues they wander down. He hopes to expand on the micro-cultural insights by building small neighbourhood museums where people can visit to learn more about the area.

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The two institutes involved will work with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to gather opinions from neighbourhood residents on what the artwork for each manhole cover should depict, with a focus on preserving the unique cultures of Bangkok’s historical quarters. The art would reflect some of the most iconic and important features of Chinatown and its culture, like Chinese lanterns and opera masks, scripts and patterns, or the Odeon Circle.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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