Uplifting Education: Thailand’s Extraordinary Learning Spaces

Few nations are as beautiful or diverse as Thailand. Shaped by Burmese, Chinese and Indian influences, the country’s architecture and traditions are rooted in its landscape and its position within Southeast Asia. Bordered by Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia, Thailand has become uniquely defined by its geographic and national boundaries, as well as a diverse natural climate engendering tropical, monsoon and savanna weather.

Some of Thailand’s most unique architecture is being built within the country’s education sector. Though Thailand has a well-organized education system, the country relies heavily on rote learning and rapidly evolving curricula that can make it difficult for educators to compare standards or test alternative teaching methods. Between varied demands and accepted materials, a well-developed private system emerged alongside governmental programs to bolster education across the country.

Taking a closer look at Thailand’s educational projects, the following collection explores the country’s most uplifting learning spaces. Largely low-fab structures built with traditional building methods, the projects are shaped by dynamic forms and open spaces. Featuring a number of floating roofs and stilts, the designs are made to work with natural forces while providing extraordinary spaces to learn and play.

School Floating in the Sky by D Environmental Design System Laboratory, Thailand

Adapting the dreams and aspirations of local school children, this school project aimed to help alleviate poverty in Shangkhaburi village. The project focuses on two architectural elements: earthbag volumes that are treated as “launching pads,” and a light steel structure reminiscent of a “flying ship” soaring into the sky.

Kwel Kah Baung Migrant Learning Center by Jan Glasmeier and a.gor.a architects, Mae Sot, Thailand

Created as a learning center within the colorful landscape of Northern Thailand, the Kwel Kah Baung Migrant project helps students learn and aids local workers in refining their adobe construction skills. The building aims to support 450 migrant children on the Thai-Burma border.

MOVING Schools 001 by Building Trust International, Mae Sot, Thailand

MOVING school is a modular, relocatable school for refugees and migrants. Built with mud floors, bamboo and tarpaulin sheets, the design is made to maximize ventilation and natural light while minimizing the impact of flooding.

Temporary Classroom of CDC School by a.gor.a architects, Mae Sot, Thailand

Designed as a school for over 1,000 students along the Thai-Burma border and in Mae Sot, the Children Development Center’s temporary classroom was built for students during a major renovation. Created as a space for migrant learning, the design was built around two big classrooms and was completed in just three short weeks.

Erber Research Center and Lecture Hall by Chiangmai Life Construction Co., Ltd., Malaiman Road, Tambon Kamphaeng Saen, Thailand

Designed to further teaching and research on chicken farming, the Erber Center is based on traditional farm house layouts with a square courtyard space. Made with a covered observation platform, meeting spaces and utility areas, the building was formed with earth and bamboo construction.

Panyaden School by 24H-architecture, Thailand

The Panyaden School is located in a former fruit orchard south of Chiang Mai. Built with informal pavilions inspired by the form of tropical antler horn ferns, the design includes classrooms, a canteen and assembly space. Created with a simple material palette, the project features bamboo and rammed-earth forms.

Baan Nhong Bua School by Junsekino Architecture & Design, Thailand

Formed as four classrooms and utility spaces around a central activity zone, the Baan Nhong Bua School explored modular materials and a dry construction process. Built with a primary steel structure, the design was also made with modular wood cement boards that formed shelving and walls.

Baan Huay Sarn Yaw School by Vin Varavarn Architects, Thailand

The Baan Huay Sarn Yaw School was designed as three new standard classrooms for students from tribal families. The lightweight structure was built in response to the seismic nature of the site and to provide multifunctional space underneath the building.

Prince Mahidol Hall by Architects 49 Limited, Salaya, Thailand

The Prince Mahidol Hall was created around acoustics for both orchestra symphonies and operas. Made with an iconic roof structure that eliminates exterior noise while recalling traditional Thai architecture, the project is a landmark building within Mahidol University.

New Training Center Campus & Temporary Dormitories by a.gor.a architects, Mae Mo, Thailand

Designed as a new facility for training programs, this project was created as an extension to the Mae Tao Clinic’s humanitarian efforts. Made with adobe for both the office and classroom walls, the structure was also built with a raised concrete slab and timber roof construction.