The Building Trust International School competition was an exciting and intense 6 week project. The brief asked for a demountable school due to the complex arrangements of leasing land in Thailand for Burmese migrant worker’s children. The common problem is that any buildings that are constructed on these leased sites become the property of the landowner when the lease ends. The area of Mae Sot in north west Thailand has also a huge shortage of educational provision for Burmese migrant worker’s children.


The design process involved research into bamboo as a building material, the testing of circular and curved geometries for organization, and extensive use of physical and digital modeling to formulate a diverse and rich set of spaces. Collaborating on the project was Ben Wells, currently studying at Sheffield, as well as Jack Everett, who contributed and helped with his expertise of bamboo structures, and showed details from the Chennai pavilion he completed with FCB Studios in 2008.


The concept explored the learning circle as an educational, playful and ecological opportunity. Taking precedents from the geometries of the flower of life, and the circus, we proposed an aspirational and flexible set of spaces that were housed in a repetitive and modular frame that was readily dismountable. We explored how to maximize multi purpose learning spaces, play, incidental space and supervision, while carefully controlling the material and structural diversity. This lead to a select palette of materials and structural typologies; reciprocal framed bamboo for the primary structure, bent bamboo for the class rooms, a thatched roof, and a protective outer rammed earth wall.

This was an interesting and rewarding experience, and we look forward to other similar competitions with an outcome that can make a difference.

Patrick Fallon