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Kwel Kha Baung

Migrant Learning Center

Located in the colorful country side of Mae Sot, close to the Thai-Burma border, Kwel Ka Baung school will provide education for 150 kids coming from the neighboring Karen state.

Conceived under the restriction of an extremely low budget, the school tries to show the community a feasible way to pursue affordable architecture without compromising spatial quality and still maintaining a strong connection to the landscape. The main material is therefore adobe, which responds perfectly to the challenging tropical climate of Mae Sot.

-Lead Designers: Albert Company Olmo, Jan Glasmeier, Line Ramstad (Gyaw-Gyaw)

-Location: Mae Sot, Thailand

-Project Year: 2013-14

-Donors: CASIRA, Gyaw-Gyaw.

-Collaborators:Lucia Rocchelli, Suvapat Choodoung

-Budget: 40,000 USD

-Photographs Franc Pallares, Abel Echeverria, Paola Di Bella

Mae Sot has a tropical savanna climate. Winters are dry and very warm. Temperatures rise until April, which is extremely hot and reaches the average daily maximum of 36.6 °C (97.9 °F). The monsoon season runs from May up to October, with heavy rains and somewhat cooler temperatures during the day. During the rainy season temperatures don't drop down in the night but are rather stable. The new buildings open up northward, towards a wide courtyard and the southern side will be sheltered by tall trees and thick bushes


All the classrooms and dining facilities are made of earth, in the form of adobe bricks. Beyond the cost-effectiveness, adobe has the advantage of being already on site, as a part of rural landscape of Mae Sot. Although it's not a traditional building material for Thailand, adobe perfectly meets the challenges of a tropical climate: indoors are kept cool through the day and just little maintenance is required after the rainy season.

The air circulation is fostered by long and narrow windows pacing the adobe walls and broad apertures along the path. The wall thickness and its composition implies a great thermal inertia, therefore we expect the whole complex to stand the temperature climax through the day and to slowly release the accumulated heath during the night. The roofs slope down towards the rear of the complex: a water collection system will be potentially installed in proximity of the kitchen.

A strong contribution to the construction phase came also from the local community through workshops and from the Canadian volunteering association Casira: during November 2013, for the second year in a row, a team of enthusiastic Quebecois worked side by side with the Karen group and financed generously the whole project

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