Alliance Française Bangkok has moved!

by Pascale Fabre
Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn

New building to continue a long story!

The new building

Alliance Francaise Bangkok moved from its previous premises to a new building on July 27th, 2018. One Bangkok has assisted Alliance Francaise Bangkok in developing its new facility.

Alliance Francaise Bangkok is part of the largest cultural network in the world, comprising more than 800 Alliance Francaise in 138 countries with more than 500,000 people learning French.

The Alliance Francaise was founded in Paris in 1884 by a group of personalities (Jules Verne, Ferdinand de Lesseps from the Suez Canal, Louis Pasteur, discoverer of the anti-rage vaccine among them) who after the defeat against the Prussians in 1870 decided to create a network of friends of France. Very rapidly the network extended in France, in the French colonies but mostly in other countries (1884 in Barcelona, Senegal or Mexico, Australia in 1889, etc). Before WW1 erupted, there were already 150 Alliances Francaise’s in France and 450 abroad!

In Thailand, the Alliance Francaise was created in 1912.

The show room-1

The Fondation Alliance Francaise (AF Foundation) was established to oversee the work of the Alliances in the work. It is in particular in charge of granting or retrieving the AF label. It has also produced a quality chart to which all Alliance have to concur with.

The purpose of Alliance Francaise Bangkok remains the same since its creation when it was established as the first Franco-Thai cultural centre: to promote the French language and francophone cultures as well as cultural diversity by providing a rich and varied programme of education, and supporting artistic talents throughout performances, films art exhibitions. It is placed under the patronage of H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and the President of the board is Dr Jingjai Hanchanlash, a successful businessman who is a francophone (having studied in France) and a passionate Francophile.

Alliance Francaise Bangkok also has 3 annexes: Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Phuket. Although more modest in size, they also promote the French language and culture in their provinces.

The auditorium
Part of the One Bangkok Community

The first location of AF was rented rooms in the Oriental hotel. But rapidly, the space proved too small and after a few locations the Alliance settled on Sathorn.  A lot of Bangkokians still remember with nostalgia the nice atmosphere, the cafe and the garden of Sathorn.

In 2013, Alliance moved to new premises next to Lumpini. But as its previous location became part of the overall One Bangkok footprint, it had to move again. To minimise the environmental impact of construction and for sustainability, equipment and materials as well as greenery, trees and landscape features had been transferred from the previous premises to the new building.

The new Alliance Francaise building will be able to directly connect with the landmark of One Bangkok development by Frasers Property and TCC Assets. This new development now under construction will be the city’s first fully-integrated district including hotels, offices, retail, residences and a large cultural component. This new building has improved access for both vehicles and pedestrians, including safe well-lit sidewalks to be supported by state of the art security controls, integrated to connect to the MRT Lumpini Station once One Bangkok is completed.

Ambitious design, spacious with modern amenities

The brand new Alliance Francaise features an attractively striking design and facade with elegant landscaped grounds. Spreading over 5 floors for a total area of 6500m2, the new Alliance Francaise has:

• 29 classrooms all equipped with screen and computer system, including children classrooms     for different ages

• An interactive multimedia library of 330m2, with a kids corner and a relaxing corner• A new and brighter dance studio with a great view and professional equipment for all sorts of dance classes (from ballet to hip hop for children, teenagers and adults)

• Spacious sewing rooms for fashion classes (haute couture, sewing, draping, etc.)

One of the highlights is the auditorium with ambitious design that offers the public exceptional acoustics and better viewing quality thanks to an increased ceiling height, for

memorable artistic experiences (films, performances).

It can accommodate 219 guests. The Steinway grand concert piano allows the Alliance to organise classical concerts.

The monumental staircase has another function besides allowing to go up and down in the building.

 An open gallery hosts artists’ creations and offer a pleasant space to rest and admire art.

Brand new ‘French bistro’ Café Mademoiselle has joined us on the ground floor and serves healthy traditional French cuisine and homemade pastries in a friendly atmosphere. Cold cuts and cheese, as well as a variety of breads will also be available to takeaway. Traditional Thai dishes cooked with quality products are also on the menu.

A bookstore Carnets d’Asie located at the entrance of the building offers a variety of books in French for French readers, learners and teachers, as well as stationery and educational games etc., and provides ordering services for individuals and institutions.

The computer room
The library
Both a language school and a cultural centre

In Thailand, almost 3000 people per year (children, teenagers and adults) follow courses at Alliance: French classes of course for all ages (from 3 years old), but also fashion courses, dance classes (from ballet to hip hop for adults and children), theatre in French. Alliance is also very active in training Thai teachers of French in partnership and with the support of the French Embassy.

At Alliance, all teachers are natives and have received a full training in teaching French as a foreign language. The curriculum is centred on communication and the acquisition of effective language skills. It is based on the Common European Framework for Languages (CEFR), an international standard set up by the Council of Europe.

Alliance Francaise is also the only official exam centre for the DELF and DALF, national diplomas awarded by the French Ministry of Education. More than 500 candidates every year pass the exams to recognise their level. Furthermore, together with the French Embassy, the Alliance is also instrumental in proposing the DELF scolaire (DELF for schools) to more than 2000 secondary school students nationwide. The Alliance Francaise has very strong ties with the cultural section of the French Embassy. Together, they propose a common communication through “highlight”, a brochure presenting four times a year their cultural activities, a lot of which are organized in common. 40 events have been organized in 2017: 8 festivals, 6 exhibitions, 9 concerts, 5 dance shows, 11 conferences, 16 special events, 117 screenings of French, Thai and other movies, for close to 15,000 people. The events range from the battle, a hip hop competition with more than 120 contestants, to classical concerts, theatre plays in French and English, standup comedy, scientific conferences together with IRASEC and IRD, two French research centres

The dancing room-B-boy
The dancing room-ballet

Ambitious design, spacious with modern amenities
The brand new Alliance Francaise features an attractively striking design and facade with elegant landscaped grounds. Spreading over 5 floors for a total area of 6500m2, the new Alliance Francaise has:
• 29 classrooms all equipped with screen and computer system, including children classrooms for different ages
• An interactive multimedia library of 330m2, with a kids corner and a relaxing corner• A new and brighter dance studio with a great view and professional equipment for all sorts of dance classes (from ballet to hip hop for children, teenagers and adults)
• Spacious sewing rooms for fashion classes (haute couture, sewing, draping, etc.)
One of the highlights is the auditorium with ambitious design that offers the public exceptional acoustics and better viewing quality thanks to an increased ceiling height, for
memorable artistic experiences (films, performances).

It can accommodate 219 guests. The Steinway grand concert piano allows the Alliance to organise classical concerts.

The monumental staircase has another function besides allowing to go up and down in the building.

An open gallery hosts artists’ creations and offer a pleasant space to rest and admire art.

The gallery

Brand new ‘French bistro’ Café Mademoiselle has joined us on the ground floor and serves healthy traditional French cuisine and homemade pastries in a friendly atmosphere. Cold cuts and cheese, as well as a variety of breads will also be available to takeaway. Traditional Thai dishes cooked with quality products are also on the menu.

A bookstore Carnets d’Asie located at the entrance of the building offers a variety of books in French for French readers, learners and teachers, as well as stationery and educational games etc., and provides ordering services for individuals and institutions.

Both a language school and a cultural centre In Thailand, almost 3000 people per year (children, teenagers and adults) follow courses at Alliance: French classes of course for all ages (from 3 years old), but also fashion courses, dance classes (from ballet to hip hop for adults and children), theatre in French. Alliance is also very active in training Thai teachers of French in partnership and with the support of the French Embassy.

The fair
The show-room
The Alliance-Hall

At Alliance, all teachers are natives and have received a full training in teaching French as a foreign language. The curriculum is centred on communication and the acquisition of effective language skills. It is based on the Common European Framework for Languages (CEFR), an international standard set up by the Council of Europe.

Alliance Francaise is also the only official exam centre for the DELF and DALF, national diplomas awarded by the French Ministry of Education. More than 500 candidates every year pass the exams to recognise their level. Furthermore, together with the French Embassy, the Alliance is also instrumental in proposing the DELF scolaire (DELF for schools) to more than 2000 secondary school students nationwide.

The Alliance Francaise has very strong ties with the cultural section of the French Embassy. Together, they propose a common communication through “highlight”, a brochure presenting four times a year their cultural activities, a lot of which are organized in common. 40 events have been organized in 2017: 8 festivals, 6 exhibitions, 9 concerts, 5 dance shows, 11 conferences, 16 special events, 117 screenings of French, Thai and other movies, for close to 15,000 people. The events range from the battle, a hip hop competition with more than 120 contestants, to classical concerts, theatre plays in French and English, standup comedy, scientific conferences together with IRASEC and IRD, two French research centres housed at Alliance, meeting with famous literary authors, presentation of books, sculpture, paintings and photos exhibitions, dance shows, etc.

The events promote as much as possible the cultural exchanges between Thailand and France, with a lot of artists being honoured (for example Pen Ek and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, a winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival have both recently had a retrospective of their work at Alliance).

Alliance Francaise has also very strong ties with the Embassies of the Francophone countries present in Bangkok, and in particular Belgium, Canada, France, Morocco, Romania, Switzerland. Together with the French Embassy, they organise every year the “Festival de la francophonie” in March, a month-long celebration of the diversity of the French speaking world. In 2018, it included one exhibition, two jazz concerts, one conference, five special screenings including one in the presence of the director of the movie, and a special fair with more than 500 students and friends of the French language participating in contests, game, while visiting booths from

each Embassy. In 2019 more countries are to join the event.

To strengthen the relation with the Francophone countries represented in Thailand, the Alliance has decided to give to some of its classroom the name of French speaking countries and ask the Embassies to decorate them.

Alliance Francaise also works closely with other Embassies to promote cultural diversity. For example, in November 2018, 5 countries (Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Spain) have organised with Alliance the first Spanish speaking film Festival in Bangkok.

Alliance also cooperates with international organisations like the EU (a debate on the death penalty, or the first outdoor European Film Festival) and the UN, especially UN women with an exhibition on women migrant workers in Thailand and an exhibition and a debate on violence against women as part of a two-week campaign launched by the UN to raise awareness. Alliance is also committed to working with the Thai civil society, for example on LGTBI rights such as a screening and debate on transgender men together with Thai associations.

Opening celebration
Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn
Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn

In order to celebrate the new building, Alliance Francaise Bangkok launched an Inauguration Festival that included many exhibitions and performances from mid-September onwards and had an Open House Day on October, 7th 2018 to let people (students, art and culture lovers) visit the whole new building and enjoy many activities based on the French theme and join various open classes from our programme. More than 700 Thais and expats attended the Open House.

A festival introducing the world famous dancer Nureyev was also organised in conjunction with the Nureyev foundation with a photo exhibition, ballet on screen and a conference by Charles Jude, Nureyev’s protege. Alliance also featured an exhibition by Art Jeeno, one of the most talented Thai cartoonists, on the occasion of the translation into French of three of his books. But the highlight was of course the official inauguration of the building by H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on October 18th. The Princess visited the facilities and spent almost two hours on site. In the evening, a gala night was performed to more than 200 guests. The highlights were the unveiling of a monumental painting by French- Chinese artist Yan Pei-Ming, as part of the Bangkok Art Biennale, and a colourful fashion show by Thai designer Tawn C.

Fashion show
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