Sustainable and beautiful all in the same building
Sometimes I cover architecture in the Bangkok Blog. While I know not everyone is interested in this subject, I think it’s important to sometimes write about projects of interest, like the weirdly shaped soccer fields I discussed sometime ago. In this entry I want to mention a new school building that was just completed in Chiang Mai, which is located in the northern part of Thailand. While I haven’t been to Chiang Mai is quite some time, I like the city. It has about 200,000 people, which is not too big. The climate is cooler than in Bangkok and it has become an incredibly popular tourist spot with its lovely mountains and forests.
I was shown some pictures of this new building and I thought that it was worth an entry. The school, Panyaden International School, where this new building is located is, I assume, a private school which stresses Buddhist principles and sustainable living. As such, it seems like all of the buildings on its campus tend to be built of natural materials that are sustainable. The newest addition to the Panyaden campus is a sports hall mostly constructed of bamboo. It’s really beautiful, as you can see from the photos above.
The building is inspired by the shape of a lotus flower. It’s a pretty big building with a capacity for a few hundred kids. The building contains a series of features that are, I think, very interesting. They include:
- A natural ventilation system that keeps the space relatively cool all year round, which is no easy task in Thailand.
- The bamboo is treated with only natural preservatives that will prevent mould.
- Rope is used to fasten the bamboo structure together. There are no steel supports and no nails or screws used.
- The structure has been designed to withstand monsoons and earthquakes.
- Even though the structure is large and uses a lot of bamboo, an equal amount of bamboo will grow back in about a year. (That’s amazing when you imagine that all the materials used in a building regenerate in just a year’s time.)
This new building is quite amazing. It’s carbon neutral; it’s sustainable; it comes from a tradition of using bamboo in a craftsman type manner; it’s evocative of Buddhist principles of simplicity and perhaps most important, it’s beautiful to look at. I’m sure it’s also awesome to be in.
I have noticed over the last few years that the quality of architecture in Southeast Asia is getting better. It’s more sustainable, more carefully designed and better constructed compared to what I used to see, maybe ten years ago. Every so often, it’s good to see new buildings that are innovative and respectful of culture and climate.