Bangkok’s Neilson Hays Library granted UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage Conservation Award

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The Neilson Hays Library was built in 1922 by an Italian architect, Mario Tamagno, and is an enduring testament to the wave of modernization that began with King Rama V (1868-1910) – the library represents Thailand’s first community library, possibly the first English-language—and most certainly the first women-led—library in the Southeast Asian region.

The Neilson Hays Library has received an Award of Distinction in the 2022 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation, which were announced on 26 November.

The jury’s statement noted, “The project sets a welcome benchmark for the restoration of early twentieth-century buildings of western architectural design in humid tropical environments.”



The Neilson Hays Library was built in 1922 by an Italian architect, Mario Tamagno, and is an enduring testament to the wave of modernization that began with King Rama V (1868-1910). The library represents Thailand’s first community library, possibly the first English-language—and most certainly the first women-led—library in the Southeast Asian region. Since then, it has functioned continuously as an independent, community library and cultural center in the heart of Bangkok. Neilson Hays Library stands today not only as an icon on Bangkok’s architectural map, but as a testament to the layers of under-represented narratives that add texture and nuance to the history of Thailand.



Thirteen projects from six nations, including Afghanistan, China, India, Iran, Nepal, and Thailand, have been acknowledged by an international jury in this year’s Awards program. Jury deliberations were carried out in November 2022, when members reviewed 50 entries from 11 countries from across the Asia-Pacific region. (NNT)