The proposal by Site-Specific for the Burma School competition aims at escaping from social depression, as Karen people are searching for freedom and are displaced from their homes. They are residing on a borrowed piece of land which they can never owned. They are living in a country that they are not considered parts of society – many of them without citizenship. So they believe that the right kind of architecture can create the sense of belonging and the sense of ownership in the hearts of the displaced Karen community members. They want to create a school that this community can say ‘made by us’ and ‘made for us’. Thus, this school can become the center of the community. More images and architects’ description after the break.
We believe that architecture is not merely just a trophy of one’s success in capitalism, but one of the tools to solve social issues. In searching for the answer, we came across the ‘Sliding Puzzle’. We were interested in this toy because they are both modular and rearrangeable, yet it maintain the integrity of the grid system. By using the ‘Sliding Puzzle’ as an architectural paradigm, we can create a school complex that has flexibility of usage simply by the rearrangement of the modules. This allows the school complex to be use for community functions such as cultural ceremonies or community meeting place when the school is off.
Sliding Tiles = Rearrangeable Modules Each module is 2.5 meters by 5 meters for easy transportation by trucks on public road. This dimension is of the correct size for each of the six classrooms. While larger required programs will be made up by connecting multiple standard modules together to create larger spaces. The school complex is made up of three different types of module – roofed module, terrace module and farm module. The school or the community can create different usage by placing these modules into different arrangement such as large assembly hall with frontal terrace, courtyard space for school events and etc. The arrangement of the modules can also be adapted to new site since the complex can be re-shaped according each specific site conditions.
Factory Made + Local Ingenuity Each of the modules are made up of parts that are both factory made and locally crafted. By employing the industrial prefabrication technology in combination with the Karen’s traditional construction techniques, the community can be involved in the construction of their school. Thus, the sense of ownership is founded.
Steel + Bamboo The school will be built with the combination of steel platforms and rail system, bamboo trusses and fabric roofs. Theses materials are designated for each particular components to allow the optimum usage of their property. The combinations also allow the school to be built with very low carbon footprint by using highly renewable material and less transportation of building components to site. The steel platforms, rail system and fabric roofings are fabricated in a factory to ensure the highest possible quality control. While the bamboo components are carefully crafted onsite by the time-honored knowledge of the Karen people. By doing this, the community can also benefit from jobs that arr created for the community’s craftsmen.
We only expect the rearrangement to occur a couple of times a year, not on the regular basis. However, to ease on the rearrangement, the modules sit on the bi-axis rail system. This system with wheels not unlike the tip of ball point pen allows the modules to move with just human hands and power.