Text description provided by the architects. The armed conflict that has persisted for decades in the Karen State of Myanmar results in a daily flow of refugees and immigrants to neighbouring Thailand. In the Thai town of Mae Sot, a few kilometres from the Burmese border, numerous schools and orphanages offer accommodation and education for the refugees and immigrants. One of these Centers, the CDC School (Children Development Center) under the tutelage of Mae Tao Clinic organisation, hosts more than 500 students.
The lack of space, and in many cases, the need for immediate accommodation for new students has forced the School to present a new model of temporary low-cost dormitories that is easy to assemble and can be built by using as many recycled materials as possible.
The Embassy of Luxembourg in Bangkok funded the construction of four dormitories. The first of four dormitories was built in April 2012 within four weeks. With a space capacity of 25 students, the building meets the modus vivendi by fitting into the local environment in which it is located. The interior layout ensures an open and airy space that offers semi-privacy and includes storage space for the students. The building materials used are locally available and well known to their users, thus allowing for easy maintenance and resulting in low maintenance costs.
The main cost of the building is the structure made from recycled timber, which represents 70% of the total construction cost of the building, and can be re-sold in the future for 80% of the price. Bamboo and thatch are also used for walls, floors, and roofs. Although these materials are not intended to last over two years without any pre-treatment, they are easily available every season and the cost is affordable and stable for the local people.
The recycled timber used for the dormitories comes from old buildings in town that are carefully stripped and put aside by the demolition crew. The timber is polished, de-nailed, and sawn down to size. Every timber frame is easy to disassemble and assemble again in a new location.
The quality of available timber, mainly teak, at the Thai-Burma border is told to be one of the best in the world. However, the price of the timber has risen by over 300% in the last few years due to the deforestation and the illegal trafficking along the border. Thus recycling timber has become popular among the local people in order to reduce the cost of the new buildings. Using timber as a main building material allows us to help preserve the traditional construction skills of the local people who are already very familiar with this material. Recycled timber as a construction product is important in both raising industry and local community awareness towards deforestation and promoting more environmentally friendly practices.
To date, five temporary dormitories for 130 children have been built during the period of April to June in 2012. The size of each temporary dormitory is 775 square feet (72 m2)and each of them costs $2,178 (1700 €). The architects are currently working on the new Mae Tao Clinic, which started construction in September 2013.