LocationMae Sot District, Tak, Thailand
Lead ArchitectsAlbert Company Olmo
Other participantsJan Glasmeier, Daniel Tejedor, Science and Technological Training Center (STTC), Ironwood
Text description provided by the architects. The students of the Science and Technology Training Centre (STTC), and a.gor.a Architects, designed and built a light-frame “Temporary Classroom” prototype in Mae Sot, on the Thailand-Myanmar border.
Over the last 30 years, Mae Sot has seen a steady flow of migrants from Myanmar who have escaped ongoing civil war or who are seeking better livelihood, healthcare and educational opportunities in Thailand.
The 60 schools providing free education to migrants experience many challenges, including lack of resources and insecure land tenure. This project provides schools with a dignified space for learning. The building also has the added benefit of being easily erected and disassembled, allowing it to be transported to various school sites depending on their changing needs.
The first design was built for the CDC School, a migrant learning center in Mae Sot which needed a temporary space for 60 students. After 6 months of use, the building was then relocated to another school in the remote village of Phop-Pra. Over the last two years, two more prototypes have been built in the region.
Also crucial to this project was the process which saw the students from STTC gaining new design and construction skills, enabling them to secure better employment opportunities.
One of the main topics taught during the workshops at STTC was selecting the appropriate tool and construction material for the job. Steel was chosen as a main material for the structure of the classroom as it allows for a longer life-span, and can withstand potential damage during transportation from one school site to another. Buildings in the Mae Sot area are highly exposed to severe weather conditions so the choice of steel also prevents deterioration caused by climate.
A single bolt placed in the edge connects both frames allowing the system to be lifted up easily. A much lighter and cheaper secondary structure made out of eucalyptus and thatch roof - commonly used in the area – were used. These materials allow the school to easily maintain the building.
The Temporary Classroom responds effectively to the tropical climate in the region. The roof is designed very low, breaking the gable into two elements. This prevents the rain from coming inside the building and also brings natural light and ventilation throughout. The inventive construction system and the steel material do not compromise on the overall traditional building aesthetic.
While this building has been used for educational purposes, it can also be used for many different functions where the context requires a dignified temporary building response. The design of the Temporary Classrooms prototype has since been shared as an open source design.