Temples of Consumerism: Undertaking Thailand’s Political Tactics through Bangkok Shopping Mall investigates the role of shopping malls as physical tools of maintaining the status quo, used by those who hold political powers in order to superimpose their ideologies on the collective citizens and perpetuate the systems. Merit-making was adopted from Thai Buddhism by the state during the cold war as a response to the outside insurgency of the communist threat. It was used as a rebranding tactic to offer people a sense of security, protection, and abundance, while subtly asserting the monarchy at the top of the religious and political hierarchy. Merit-making has commonly been practiced among Thai Buddhists in everyday life through the physicalized religious artifacts in the urban fabric and became (remains) part of the population’s everyday lives until today. As religious lifestyles become irrelevant, the modern Thai middle-class citizens take part in a new form of merit-making through shopping at the malls which have completely replaced the temple’s role as the main public space. the malls became the new temples that seem secular and nonpolitical, while subtly assert the corporations on top of the hierarchy.

Temples of Consumerism subverts the role of escalators as architectural mechanism in shopping malls, proposing an interiorized never-ending loop of moving walkway that travels through 11 existing malls in the renowned commercial district Siam-Ratchaprasong, connecting every escalator of the malls into one path.The devotees in this walkway loop are being placed on the spiritual hierarchy, which is regulated by the merit score systems, measured by the time and money they spent in this loop. In each mall is the orchestrated merit-making ritual that subverts the role of escalators and other regulating mechanisms. This closed-loop is in the constant state of balancing out, always regulating to be the most efficient and profitable as possible. At the exit of each mall, the devotees must offer an amount of their merit score to the “merit-makers” who orchestrated these malls. If you don’t make a good enough merit score, you will be kicked out of the system, and have to join the peasants and spirits living in the chaotic street below.