Pareid, a Thailand-base architectural studio has worked efficiently along with the students of Chulalongkorn University to build an open-walled classroom around two funnel-like catchment areas for rainwater harvesting. The project is located in western Thailand, a very rural part of Thailand. The region is subjected to heavy rainfall followed by an extensive hot dry climate for the rest of the year.
The classroom is named Pythonesque, created as additional space at Ban Wang Toey School in the Uthai Thani province of Thailand. The idea behind building such a structure is to demonstrate the importance of water through the visible water collection system. The roof is constructed of two funnels that collect water and supply it to the underground storage reservoir. Space below has been created used and converted into a multi-functional classroom.
The structure has been planned in a way to stand out from the rest of the school and at the same time keeping in mind the climate context and vernacular features of the region. The structural and construction technique used standard material but in a very aesthetic manner, the red color of the steel member merges well with the sensitive environment.
The structure is carefully designed with a beautiful composition of inverted triangular pyramid modules, avoiding any kind of uncommon cut or joinery in the steel members. Because of the simple structural design, the pieces can be manually mounted and welded, eliminating the need for heavy work. Hence, reducing the overall cost, as the maximum length of the linear member is four meters which allow manual movement and construction.
Water boiled wooden panels have used as a finishing material. It is an industrial material designed to provide acoustic and thermal insulation from heavy rains and strong heat. An additional layer of aluminum foil with insulated zinc is added to provide a thermal barrier and sheds water inside and outside of the building. Translucent red vinyl canvas projecting outwards provides shading while also allowing natural daylight. The structure does not rely on artificial lighting and cooling.
The fact amazes how a local rural area could integrate architecture and a multipurpose space that has a strategically practical response which helps in stimulating students while also making water accessible in affected areas. To ensure this, physical exercise machines are installed around the classroom to pump water between the underground storage areas. This cost of heavy machinery is eliminated that otherwise would have been a requirement for water pumping. The project was designed with the purpose of utilizing the natural environment, eliminating all the factors impacting on the surroundings.
The asymmetrical plan provides flexibility to the structure, where the front and backside can only be decided with the placement of furniture that is designed specifically for the structure. The shape of the furniture is designed in a way it can be transformed into a canteen, classroom, event space or a simple hang out space for children.
The existing buildings in the surroundings are the combination of dark and light greens that blend well with the surroundings and vegetation of the area. However, the purpose of the new structure was to provide a gathering spot and to make it a kind of a space that stands out instead of fitting in. hence, red and purple colors are used primarily in the construction.
The classroom was created as part of the design-build for community collaboration between the International Program in Design and Architecture at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. The objective was to teach students the design process and on-site construction.