UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage


Patra Rungsiroj

Thesis Title: Defining Urban Heritage Dimensions in Asian Inhabited Historic Towns: A case study of Chiang Mai, Thailand

Primary Supervisor: Dr. Kalliopi Fouseki 
Secondary Supervisor: Professor May Cassar
Starting Date: September 2016
Completion Date: September 2020

This research aims to develop a theoretical and methodological framework for defining urban heritage dimensions in a way that integrates traditional practices, while also acknowledging global discourse, and encompassing tangible and intangible attributes as integral parts of a holistic concept of heritage values. This research explores possibilities for using Environmental Cognition Theory to dimensionally deepen the understanding of defining heritage dimensions which is fundamental for heritage management of Asian inhabited historic towns.

The research aims to define comprehensive dimensions of urban heritage, both the tangible and intangible attributes, in order to create a profound understanding of issues and complexities associated with heritage management in Asian inhabited historic towns. It uses case studies of inhabited historic areas which are situated in an urban context of Chiang Mai, Thailand, where there is the possibility of being nominated as a World Heritage Site. It focuses on the urban heritage dimensions of the historic areas within the city, and also on the urban heritage dimensions of an entire city, in order to gain understanding of their interrelationship.

The study outcome will contribute to the wider field of heritage studies and heritage management by providing an in-depth understanding of how symbolic attributes, collectively with physical attributes, play an important role in contributing to the heritage values of urban heritage elements. A methodological contribution of how to elicit locals’ perception of heritage values will advance heritage management practice and would be useful to a great extent for other cases of heritage conservation of other Asian inhabited historic towns.