Panyaden Secondary School Design Concept | Chiangmai Life Architects

Project Year : Construction started in 2018 and is estimated to finish in 2022.
Design Team: Chiangmai Life Architects (Markus Roselieb and Tosapon Sittiwong)
Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Photograph credits: Markus Roselieb CLA

We are humbled to bring to our readers an insight to one of the ongoing project of CLA, an architectural practice based in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The practice is well known for their work with organic architecture and sustainability. We went ahead and asked them about the concept and ideas behind designing of Panyaden Secondary School, along which they have also uncovered various techniques that are employed in the building.

We are personally in awe with their values and respect their determination in establishing an unconventional precedence. Read on to find what they have to say on the project!


Markus Roselieb and Tosapon Sittiwong ; img via CLA

Panyaden’s main concept for design as well as curriculum is to connect. Connect us to our environment, connect natural materials with state-of-the-art engineering science, connect value-based education with the highest academic standards, sustainable architecture and 21st century comforts. It is about bringing aspects together that were thought to be mutually exclusive; including not excluding.

Bringing the subtle vibrations of nature into the room through organic shapes and natural materials and letting them create a peaceful atmosphere, and equipping the room with the most modern science equipment and 5G embedded in an IB curriculum.

Panyaden School is situated in northern Thailand where the temperatures vary greatly all year round – from 5 to 10C° in winter to 45C° in summer. So the design and materials had to accommodate these differences with a minimum use of air-conditioning or other high energy consumptive devices.

“The architectural design concept by Chiangmai Life Architects is based on organic shapes. Flowing natural lines that are in tune with the environment and maximize natural ventilation effects.”

The main materials chosen for construction are clay and bamboo. Clay in the form of adobe bricks, rammed earth or wattle & daub walls and bamboo for the roofs and as main material for open buildings in Thai language called “sala”, like the canteen. For 2-storey buildings the local building commission demanded a reinforced concrete frame work. Also all foundations were cast from reinforced concrete.

The bamboo roof is based on long bamboo bundles that are made of bamboo poles that are connected to each other with bamboo dowels all through their length and thus create a steel cable like tensile structure. The tiling is done by several layers of split-bamboo tiles with tar sheets sandwiched in between for water proofing as well as thermal insulation.

The earthen walls create a nice cool room climate that is enhanced by the characteristics of the bamboo roof. Additionally, clean fresh air is circulated into the rooms after having been cooled down through heat-exchange in underground pipes.

“Thus the carbon footprint from construction as well as from operation is minimal.”

Construction Glimpse


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