Spatial ordering of low-income flat common area: use the case of Baan Euay-Arthorn in Thailand
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 13:39 by Amata Jantarangsee
Baan Euay-Arthorn (BEA - literally 'home with care') is a social housing program initiated by the Thai government in 2003. Operated by the Thai National Housing Authority (NHA), the low-priced houses and units in BEA are sold to low-income people in urban areas. The BEA housing complexes are then managed by private companies with income from condominium fees paid by residents. BEA residents include low-income earners in government and private sectors, workers in the manufacturing and service sectors, and self-employed labourers. The objective of this thesis is to understand how residents, NHA and BEA management companies each view common areas in BEA housing developments. The thesis seeks to describe the spatial ordering of BEA common areas in terms of how these spaces are negotiated via the NHA legal frameworks and residents' everyday practices. Three typical BEA flat developments within Bangkok were selected for this research based on criteria of population density and willingness of management to participate. The density of the population at these locations is a key factor in the intensity of space-sharing as residents are forced to use common areas outside their private units to conduct everyday activities. The study uses concepts from the sociology of everyday life and socio-cultural studies of architecture, specifically the notion of 'front' and 'back' regions and 'unbounded' space, to analyse the confrontations between authorities' imaginations of the purity of common areas and the realities of residents' practices. The study employs qualitative methods, including visual research (building documentation, photogray, and observations) and non-visual research (interviews with eight BEA management company and NHA employees, and document analysis of BEA management guidelines, regulations and minutes) as well as sociological literature on shared space and urban communities. Interviews with BEA resident were not undertaken in this thesis, which exists as limitation to the findings. Inclusion of residents as participants in this project was not possible due to MRes research ethics approval being limited to low-risk research only within the a nine-month thesis submission timeline. Consequently, recruitment for interviews was done by postal and electronic permission and invitation letter with the NHA and management company employees only and data about residents uses of common areas was restricted to unobtrusive observation, which was documented via the visual research component . The thesis finds that lack of understanding by management of the everyday needs and requirements of residents and a resulting emphasis on legal standards causes conflicts over com mon area use. Managed in a top-down approach, BEA public housing space is designed and regulated according to middle-class values, which causes a structural contradiction between rules and practices. While BEA authorities mainly regulate by law, regulations and rules, the residents often manage common areas informally in ways that reflect their lower-class 'habitus'. The thesis concludes that negotiated outcomes are generated by the housing authorities to bridge this contradiction via informal compromises between legal aspects and everyday practices, for example, by overlooking infractions of rules if other residents do not complain. Furthermore, it finds that these compromises are unwillingly used by authorities. Therefore, BEA common areas are the site of contests between authorities' imagination of a middle-class community and the residents themselves. The thesis, therefore, argues that these negotiated outcomes should be recognised as part of the formal processes of BEA management.