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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Bamboo School for Burmese Refugees in Thailand by 2bw Studio

January 6th, 2012 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: 2bw Studio

Building Trust International recently held an international design competition to design a modular and demountable school for Burmese refugees in Thailand. The building of a new school in Thailand, for Burmese refugees, highlights the need we as humans have to learn and to teach, no matter what the circumstances we may find ourselves in.

Bamboo School for Burmese Refugees

  • Architects: 2bw Studio
  • Project: Bamboo School for Burmese Refugees
  • Location: Thailand

Bamboo School for Burmese Refugees

As Burma is responsible for more refugees than any other country, there is a poignant importance to providing an environment, which is educational, caring, and protective for displaced children. Part of this provision must include finding new responses to educational buildings and refugee relief. Traditionally school buildings are a valued part of the community they serve, adding both character and focus to their environment. This design proposal responds to the above situation by providing a series of sheltered spaces and enclosures that encourage children to learn, play and be rehabilitated into the local community. The design is intended to be colourful, warm and promote a feeling of safety and sanctuary where children will be able to develop and learn new skills. The design is based on a modular construction system which allows the buildings to easily expand to suit future uses or a different site if required.


The arrangement of the building blocks creates a protected space that is easily visible from most angles ensuring that staff members can monitor the children and ensure their safety whilst they learn and play within the school grounds. The primary entrance is from the south and all visitors must pass by the office admin area thus ensuring a high degree of visual security.

Two primary ideas were considered, firstly the need to create an environment that would serve as a hub of learning. A school that encouraged Work, Play and Rest. We envisaged a plan to bring this about by incorporating a series of perimeter buildings, with a central play area. This is easily adaptable, allowing the school to remain functional and reflect any changing requirements of sites. Linked with this was the need to ensure the school would relate to its environment and would sit lightly on the landscape.


The second primary idea considered was the design and construction of the school and the need to ensure that the building was not only easily constructed, but equally easily dismantled as having to be relocated at short notice being a real possibility with the future.

Keeping the “demountable” aspect in mind, with the materials we chose, it made vital sense to work on a detail of construction, which was both uncomplicated and versatile using as few fixings as possible, to maintain structural stability and aesthetic quality. Almost all fixings are by simple wood “tying” blocks, secured using only one through bolt or threaded rod. This eliminates the need for any specialist equipment or labour to construct the buildings. This can become a local community building that is actually built by the community it serves.


The wall, floor and roof panels are all of a standard size (1220mm x 610mm), cut from an standardized plywood panel of 1220mm x 2440mm, this makes the panels easier to handle and move, if the site should change in the future. The colours for the panels reflect the setting of the environment; earthy and natural in tone and intensity. The wall panels themselves, when constructed, due to the nature of their being retrievable and re-usable, will almost certainly create a new, varied
pattern in the facade itself; creating a new school for each new site. The fact that the vertical bamboo columns are left visible demonstrate our wish to retain a visible link between the materials used, the form, and the landscape.


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Category: School

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