Thai architects develop a building typology for disaster-resistant schools

Vin Varavarn Architects, a Bangkok-based firm, developed a new architectural typology for earthquake resistant schools.

After Mae Lao Earthquake struck Chiang Rai Province in the North of Thailand in 2014, Design for Disasters (D4D), a post-disaster recovery program, was launched to design and build nine new earthquake-resistant school buildings in the areas most affected.

The earthquake measured 6.3 on the Richter scale and destroyed 73 schools affecting over two thousand students. The D4D program assigned nine architecture firms a project to design new school buildings, one for each school.

Bangkok-based Vin Varavarn Architects were assigned the Baan Huay Sarn Yaw School. The school needed 3 new standard classrooms for secondary school students and the design requirements specified that the building must be earthquake resistant, easily constructed by local workers and requiring as low budget as possible. They had just one week to produce designs and construction drawings to raise funds for the project.

Not only did the architects build new classrooms, but also developed a new building typology to enliven the atmosphere for children who were victims of an earthquake. Three classrooms were joined together into one building to foster close relationships between students and minimise the land use.

Vin Varavarn Architects built triangular prisms, divided into three classrooms, with a foyer between each, and balconies at either end.

The architects used natural materials such as bamboo in selected areas to illustrate how local materials can substitute expensive modern materials and at the same time, harmonise the architecture with its context.

The lightweight steel construction elements have been left exposed to convey the feeling of solidity and safeness and to reduce unnecessary finishing costs.

The final project has been nominated as one of five finalists for Archdaily Building of the Year Awards 2016 in the educational building category.