Historic Bangkok train terminal will be saved and developed

Hua Lamphong station, the century-old Italianate architectural landmark that will soon lose its status as Bangkok’s main rail terminal, may be developed into a commercial space as city planners seek to preserve more of the capital’s heritage.

The station opened in 1916 and was designed by Mario Tamagno. The Turin-born architect and his colleague Annibale Rigotti were responsible for many landmark buildings in Bangkok in the early 20th century. Hua Lamphong features ornate arched ceilings, stained glass windows and elegant white columns.

“The structure itself is quite imposing, in that neo-Renaissance style and it is quite ornate and almost grandiose and austere in a way,” said Dave Kendall, a travel journalist.

“The long platforms and languid atmosphere of the Hua Lamphong station have long imbued an element of romance to rail travel in Thailand,” the Bangkok Post wrote about the terminal, which at its peak handled 37 million passengers per year.

In November, the government will open the modern, higher-tech Bang Sue Central Station, replacing Hua Lamphong as the capital’s main terminal and national rail nexus. Some trains will still stop at Hua Lamphong, but its large confines make it ripe for additional uses.

The move to redevelop the station reflects a realization among officials that there is cultural and financial value in preserving more of the capital’s history and heritage. The desire to transform Bangkok into a modern metropolis in recent decades has resulted in many charming, classic and historically significant buildings being demolished and replaced with glass and steel structures. That trend is now being reversed.

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