Los dormitorios nominados para el DETAIL PRIZE 2012 

     Han pasado 3 meses desde que finalizáramos las obras de los dormitorios temporales para los estudiantes de la escuela CDC en Mae Sot. El pasado mes de Junio nos informaron que el proyecto había sido nominado entre 589 proyectos de todo el mundo para el Premio Detail 2012. El premio que cada año organiza la revista de arquitectura DETAIL pretende subrayar el rol social que el arquitecto debe asumir en su profesión y potenciar el dialogo entre el público y el arquitecto.

     De entre los 25 proyectos pre seleccionados, un jurado integrado por arquitectos de la talla de Norman Foster, David Chipperfield o Richard Meier, entre otros, decidirán uno, o más ganadores por categorías. Al mismo tiempo, la revista ha abierto una nueva categoría en la que el público puede participar y votar por su preferido.

     Gracias a todos aquellos que queráis votar por el proyecto en su página web.

Vota aquí!!!


Dormitorios temporales para CDC School

     El conflicto armado que persiste desde hace décadas en el estado Karen de Myanmar supone un flujo diario de refugiados e inmigrantes hacia la vecina Tailandia. En la localidad tailandesa de Mae Sot, a pocos quilómetros de la frontera, numerosas escuelas y orfanatos les ofrecen alojamiento y educación. Uno de estos centros, la CDC School, bajo la tutela de la organización Mae Tao Clinic, acoge a más de 500 alumnos.

     La falta de espacio, y en muchas ocasiones, la necesidad de disponer de alojamiento inmediato para nuevos estudiantes, obligó a la escuela a plantear un nuevo modelo de dormitorio temporal de bajo coste y fácil montaje.

   Financiados por la Embajada de Luxemburgo en Bangkok, el primero de los 4 dormitorios planteados, fue construido en abril de 2012 en menos de 4 semanas. Con capacidad para 25 estudiantes, el edificio se adapta al modus-vivendi local y al entorno rural en el que se encuentra. La distribución interior del espacio garantiza una pieza abierta y ventilada, y ofrece espacios semiprivados  con capacidad para 3 individuos y espació de almacenaje.

    Los materiales utilizados son todos de fácil acceso en la zona y perfectamente conocidospor sus usuarios, lo que les permite un mantenimiento sencillo y  de bajo coste.

Busca más sobre este proyecto en: http://openarchitecturenetwork.org/projects/boarding_cdc

Working with adobe bricks

    In construction, there is a long list of technical and social benefits of using adobe bricks rather than concrete bricks: their environmental and economical sustainability; mud is an easy material to work with; it provides good insulation  for the buildings; and their simple and cheap maintenance.

     Nonetheless, we don’t like making a list of the “good and bad guys” in terms of construction materials. We have to be aware that every material provides us with some benefits, according to the place where it is going to be used and the job that has been assigned to do. Choosing the right material makes a much better project !

    Several weeks of concrete job were finished at the Training Center and the ground was dry enough to start producing adobe bricks. Wooden frames, rice husks, sand and soil  were all the ingredients we needed to make them. The sun would do the rest of the work.

     Over 5,000 bricks were produced on site to build the walls for the classrooms and the office. Later on, several layers of a mix made of soil, sand, water and tapioca were plastered on the walls, to protect them from the rain and make them more durable.

    We truly believe that  this way of building could raise awareness among the community, in showcasing the benefits of using this kind of material as an alternative in construction. It is indeed an excellent way of proving wrong to those who believe that a mud house is a building only for poor people, and that it also can be beautiful!

    Please, find hereby a list of more people and organisations in Thailand who are working with earthen bricks:
– Pun Pun Farm
– Chiangmai Life Construction
– Ga Yaw Ga Yaw
– Earthen Adobe
– เครือข่ายบ้านดิน (Natural Building Network Thailand)

Doing workshops; Building schools 

  The first week of April Ga Yaw Ga Yaw and Pun Pun Farm are conducting two workshops, where the participants will have the chance to participate, alongside with the local villagers, in the construction of two schools in villages on the Thai-Burma border.

  Pun Pun Farm will be working with a villager project close to the Burmese border, helping them to build a much needed school using adobe.  They are Karen and work with Karen communities on health and education in the Umphang area on both sides of the border.

   They currently look after 50 children and they expect 100 children soon.  They don’t have proper facilities at the moment to help support the increasing internally displaced people coming.

  Their role is to gather people together to help build their school using local readily available materials and teach them adobe techniques so they and other communities in the area can use use it to fulfill their needs. 

   Ga Yaw Ga Yaw is organizing a workshop at the remote Karen village of Maw Kwee. It is located in the mountains on the Thai side of the border, around 120 km north of the border town Mae Sot. The aim of the workshop is to design and complete the construction of adobe walls on a local primary school.

   Adobe as a material is diverse and offers multiple possibilities for construction and design. In this case they are working within the physical frames of an existing floor and a roof, and will be applying the method of using pre-made adobe bricks.

   The local climate and consideration for the purpose of the building will be at the heart of the design, which is why natural light, wind flow and cultural aspects will be the main issues during the design process.

No longer a sketch

For the last 3 months Ga Yaw Ga Yaw focused all his energy on the construction of the classrooms and the office of the Training Center. Once both of them are almost finished, all the attention has moved to the construction of the Boarding House.

Three weeks left to finish one of the houses and to show to the Mae Tao Clinic staff that this is a suitable house to host students from CDC school and trainees from BMA (Burmese Medical Association) .

An approximate cost of 80.000Baht (2.000€) each house, the building has been designed to be built in less than a month with no more than 4 workers. All the materials are easily found in the area, recycled and lighter which allows the construction to be rebuilt somewhere else in case of necessity.

Goodbye Monsoon, Hello Winter!! 

In October the wind from China arrived, clearing up the Mae Sot sky. The sun was finally back!! The ground dried up quickly and the afternoons became the perfect time for football matches.

 Without having to face the rain any longer, the making of concrete turned out to be much easier than before. More than 300 bags of cement and 20 trucks of sand and gravel were necessary to finish the foundation of the wall, the two classrooms and the office.

On top of using iron to reinforce the foundation, we also resolved to use bamboo as a reinforcement for the slabs. Tiles for the floor would have been also a good way of flooring inside the buildings, but we decided to use less material and apply a smooth, thin layer of mortar mixed with some black colorant.

Rain vs Construction 

Weather forecasters have agreed the last monsoon season, in 2011, was the most severe in 50 years. Although  Mae Sot was not affected by the overflow of the Chao Praya river, hundreds of hectares of land around the Training Center suffered several inundations, damaging roads and facilities.

  September arrived and the monsoon was still hitting Mae Sot with rain every day.

  The ground where the classrooms and office were planned to be built was completely flooded. At that moment we foresaw  a truckload of digging work coming our way.

  Four weeks were necessary to open almost one kilometer of trenches and to drain all the water.In this case, the farming background of the team  members was essential to figure out where and how the job had to be done.

  The ground where the classrooms and office were planned to be built was completely flooded. At that moment we foresaw  a truckload of digging work coming our way.
  Four weeks were necessary to open almost one kilometer of trenches and to drain all the water.In this case, the farming background of the team  members was essential to figure out where and how the job had to be done.
   Without any big automatic digging machine to do the job, the personal digging abilities became an indispensable skill…

… that not  everybody had.

The Beginnings

The Medical Training Center of the Mae Tao Clinic was planned to be a campus of several buildings that would be grouped together on a piece of land, not far from the Mae Tao Clinic.

By 2009, the first phase of the project  had already been completed  and both water and electricity facilities were in place. A few  buildings were finished too, including dormitories, conference room and toilets, which provided accommodation for the trainees as well as covering all the necessities during the training period.

      We planned the construction of the rest of the Medical Training Center to be built in four more phases. By dividing the construction in several phases, the clinic could easily  establish the frames for the future medical training programs.

         The second phase, which included the construction of two classrooms and one office was designed to minimize the negative environmental impact and reduce the energy needs of  buildings.

→ Proper buildings orientation and windows location would allow the main wind direction to flow through the houses and  to cool down the inside of the buildings, without the use of air/con or fans.

→ By using adobe bricks produced on the construction site, we would reduce the environmental  impact  and protect the buildings from sun insulation.

→ Banana trees, bamboos and stones from the site would be used as a natural systems to drain rainwater and sewage


       On May 2011, Ga Yaw Ga Yaw started this second phase, planting trees and preparing the land, ahead of the rainy season. The construction would start 4 months later, once the monsoons were over.

Design for the new CDC boarding house

      Mae Tao Clinic supports the Children’s Development Centre (CDC), a big school in Mae Sot for displaced and migrant children from Burma. Around 80 CDC students were staying at a large, rented, 3-storey building. Unfortunately, the landlord of this building decided to evict them at the end of last November. Those students are  now temporary sheltering at the Mae Tao Clinic training center premises.

temporary shelter

     Using some of the land available not far from the CDC school, it was decided to build a new boarding house. How did the design of the building start? Well, by asking ourselves this simple question:

What  DOs / DON’Ts we want for the building?

→ We DON’T want more than 25 students per building, otherwise it will be too crowded.
We DO want to use materials that can be either reused or sold afterwards.
→ We DO want to have enough outdoor space for leisure activities.
→ We DO want to use traditional construction techniques to facilitate an easy      maintainance.

Then it was time to sketch some ideas for the layout…


…and make a model to discuss all the points with the team.

model discussion

      Once we decided on the design and everybody had agreed with the location of the houses (4 buildings to hold almost 100 people), we were then ready to draw an accurate plan to be able to measure all the material that was needed.

donor presentation

la filosofía Ga Yaw Ga Yaw

Integrantes de Ga Yaw Ga Yaw luciendo las camisas tradicionales Karen

     La elección del nombre Ga Yaw Ga Yaw para la ONG dirigida por la arquitecta noruega Line Ramstad es un ejemplo claro de honestidad, humildad y sensatez. 

     La expresión Karen ga yaw-ga yaw (ကသီ ကသီ) se utiliza frecuentemente cuando queremos expresar cierta calma o cautela a la hora de realizar una determinada acción. A menudo, las dificultades para entender esta filosofía son la causa del fracaso en nuestros proyectos. Un fracaso que, en un afán de buena voluntad, no es más que un intento fallido de exportar nuestras incuestionables exigencias occidentales a un mundo donde residen unos valores muy distintos.

       Desde 2009 Ga Yaw Ga Yaw se ha esforzado por mantener esta  filosofía con el fin de integrarse al máximo al entorno al que pertenece. Gracias a ello han podido construir escuelas, orfanatos, comedores, baños y pozos para la comunidad Karen de la frontera tailandesa.* Han implementado nuevas técnicas de construcción sostenibles que nadie antes había incluido en sus programas y han conseguido garantizar el cien por cien de participación local en todos sus proyectos. Cumplen también con una de las premisas básicas del trabajo aquí: la comunidad siempre decide aquello que quiere y ellos, con rigor,  aportan las habilidades y los recursos necesarios.

      Conscientes de sus logros, Mae Tao Clinic ha decidido contar con ellos para llevar a cabo uno de sus proyectos más ambiciosos, la construcción de un nuevo centro de formación médica para inmigrantes. La estrecha colaboración entre ambas organizaciones es una muestra más de hasta que punto Ga Yaw Ga Yaw ha conseguido integrarse y convertirse en un elemento mas de la comunidad local.


*Grupo étnico establecido mayoritariamente en el sudeste de Birmania, aunque con gran presencia en el territorio tailandés fronterizo. En Birmania se han contabilizado hasta 135 grupos y subgrupos étnicos distintos.