When a strong magnitude-6.3 earthquake rattled northern Thailand last year, 73 schools were destroyed. In response, the non-profit Design for Disasters (D4D) launched a post-disaster recovery program that asked emerging Thai architects to design nine earthquake-resistant schools in the most affected areas. Vin Varavarn Architects recently completed their appointed assignment, the Baan Huay Sarn Yaw School, a handsome and low-cost building raised on stilts and built with local materials.
The and energy-efficient Baan Huay Sarn Yaw School is a long rectangular volume comprising three large classrooms, separated by foyers, and bookended by two outdoor covered balconies. The floors are constructed from fiber cement board and solid bamboo batten panels. The use of lightweight building materials helps reduce horizontal momentum caused by quake activity. Elevated on stilts, the structure is topped by a steeply pitched insulated metal sheet roof with alternating bands of translucent resin and bamboo batten. The translucent panels bring natural light to the interior and reduce electricity costs, while the layers of bamboo help protect the school against solar heat gain, rain, and hail.
The lightweight steel-framed building is raised on a series of concrete footings and columns and elevated high enough that the space beneath can be used for extra programming. Colorful potted plants are placed in rows of bamboo shelving along both sides of the school to soften the building’s hard edges and create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
“The flower pots represent our message to remind the children that in spite of the harsh and cruel realities of caused by natural disasters, nature can also bring them beauty and joy to every day of their lives,” say the architects. The shelving also doubles as safety measures to prevent children from falling in the event of an earthquake.