- Architect In Charge: School 4 Burma competition winners Amadeo Bennetta & Dan LaRossa and Building Trust international Design Team
- City: Mae Sot
- Country: Thailand
Text description provided by the architects. A little over a year ago David & Louise Cole while on holiday in Thailand visited Mae Sot, a small industrial town on the Thai-Burmese border. While there they witnessed the plight of children of displaced, stateless Burmese refugees, being uprooted every few years due to the lack of land rights. They came up with an idea of a school building that could be taken down and transported with the community, perhaps one day being able to be taken back over the border into Burma and starting the regeneration of the countries small rural border towns that have been devastated by decades of civil war. Following a design competition to find the best solution they returned and with the help of local adolescent apprentices built the first MOVINGschool.
The first school was finished in 2012, and this Spring they returned and completed two more. The schools offer a safe place of learning to more than five hundred children. To build the schools, they started the charity Building Trust international, held an international design competition, hosted an exhibition in London, led the build, changed the way school land contracts were written and encouraged young migrants to learn and share skills such as woodwork, metalwork and bamboo building techniques with peers and volunteers. Today Building Trust international has building projects focussed on health provision, community empowerment, women’s literacy, education & low cost housing in both the developed and developing World. The pair have helped to inspire many more designers and architects to get involved with humanitarian design projects and use their skills to help those most in need.
Their latest project sees the construction of flood resistant homes in Cambodia, responding to the recent slum clearances. Working alongside local charities and with international architects they have built three new housing prototypes offering families affected by HIV/AIDS, a level of choice and flexibility over the design of NGO delivered housing in the region. This first step is now snowballing and the Charity has proposed a new incremental housing strategy to the Cambodian government, Asia Development Bank and AusAID which could benefit thousands of families as early as the start of next year.
Building Trust international realises that there are problems closer to home and not content with tackling issues facing communities overseas last year they turned their attention to the living conditions of the elderly and young homeless in the UK. Working with the support of the YMCA and Habitat for Humanity they initiated and continue to promote a scheme by London based architects Levitt Bernstein. This will see redundant storage spaces turned into fully functional living spaces creating a real answer to the lack of quality affordable single occupancy housing in urban areas.