The Multi-functional Dimensions of Wat (Pagoda) Space in Challenging City Environment Development


The multiple functions of Wat (pagoda) Space for urban Development

The Wat (or pagoda) is a place where monks reside, and are educated in the principles of Buddhism. It also functions as a public space and plays a critical role in the establishment of Khmer cultural, social, educational and spiritual/moral identities in Khmer society.

In terms of the social and cultural dimensions, the Wat offers space for meetings and activities, ranging from community development to recreation and religious ceremonies. In the area of education and spirituality it fulfills the function of an educational centre for traditional knowledge and informal vocational training. Moreover, the Wat can be a place of shelter for desperate persons where they can stay and do good things in order to gain merit for their next life. It is also found that the Wat is a tranquil place where people go to meditate, encouraging t them to be peaceful and seek non-violent solutions. Besides, it offers struggling male students a place to stay while they pursue their education in the city centre.
Since the Wat offers space for social interaction in the context of social activities, cultural traditions and religious ceremonies it plays a crucial role in building up social and human capital and strengthening social ties. The current spread of modern influences and lifestyles and their impact on traditional society is a highly complex process which has negative impacts on the entire social environment, challenging the role/ importance of the Wat in society as a public space.
This article reviews the primary role of the Wat as a public space and an integrated part of society which enhances the social environment bringing order and harmony to society and helping to manage some of the current challenges linked to modernization and development.

Keywords: public space, social and human capital, ceremony, culture, education, identity, , environment, development.
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