Baan Kang Wat is one of Chiang Mai’s must-visit destinations. The hybrid wood and concrete buildings situated in a lush green environment are home to restaurants, cafés, local shops and art and craft studios where activities and workshops are often held. It is a commune of craftspeople and creative minds alike.
With this plot of empty land at his disposal, owner Nattawut “Big” Ruckprasit, who is one of the current occupants at Baan Kang Wat, came up with the idea to build a village where like-minded people could gather in one place. Shop and studio owners who also live there can get together in the evening after working hours have ended. This is part of the charm of Baan Kang Wat, for it is not just a commercial space but is a lively community unlike any other.
The name Baan Kang Wat occurred by accident, said Nutthapong “Nut” Niemnut, a representative of the community.
“When we began working together, we thought of many names, but none were quite right. We would call it Baan Kang Wat just among ourselves because it is opposite Wat Ram Poeng. It was straightforward and hinted at our origin because we started from a simple house (Baan). In the end, we just stuck to this name,” said Nut.
Baan Kang Wat opened in 2014 with ten two-story houses, each having a unique design. Some of their occupants joined by invitation, while others were selected from applicants and assigned a building. It all depended on their craft and who they were.
“Because this is a co-living space, we had to select people who share similar mindsets. Their interests might be varied, but they must also be prepared to help and support the community,” said Nut.
In the middle of the commune is a sunken seating area that serves as an event space. The film screening event in their opening week was one of their most memorable events and created quite a buzz around town. Because of its charming, vintage vibe imbued with a sense of nature, Baan Kang Wat quickly became a popular destination among residents interested in folkways, reviewers and visiting travelers. Later, kiosks were added to fill up the space, making the atmosphere even cozier. Now, Baan Kang Wat is home to around 30 craft makers. Occasionally, for special events, they make spaces available free of charge depending on the purpose of the event.
In its second and third years, Baan Kang Wat began looking into its future sustainability. Known for its craftworks and workshops, they wanted to promote the value of craftworks while paying less attention to price tags. Baan Kang Wat encouraged its occupants to organize more activities and interactions with visitors, and since then it has become known as an all-day craft market.
“Baan Kang Wat is like an ideal community where people who share similar interests and passions live and work together in the same space. They follow their own lifestyle while running their own businesses. Members of our community always welcome visitors who seek experience and want to share their knowledge. It is a creative space and community open to all,” said Nut.