This Vibrant Classroom in Thailand Doubles as a Water Harvesting System

Pylonesque is an adaptive, functional learning space that is responsive to its surrounding environment and culture.

Nathaniel Bahadursingh Nathaniel Bahadursingh

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Interdisciplinary design and research studio, Pareid, in collaboration with students from Chulalongkorn University’s International Program in Design and Architecture (INDA) in Bangkok, Thailand, have built an eye-catching, semi-enclosed, multi-purpose space that also serves as a water harvesting system in rural, western Thailand. Called Pylonesque, the classroom was created as an expansion of the Ban Wang Toey School, a primary and middle school, located in the Thai province of Uthai Thani. Its distinctive, brightly colored roof comprises two funnels that collect water and channel it to storage containers underground.

In this region, which typically experiences heavy rain seasons followed by extensive hot and dry periods, water holds immense cultural and practical significance. It is profoundly linked to community life, and is integral to agriculture, local traditions and festivities. The dual function of classroom and water collection system seeks to demonstrate the importance of water to the school’s students, particularly given that running water is not very accessible in this location.

According to Hadin Charbel, co-founder of Pareid, in a statement to Dezeen: “It seemed fitting that a multi-use space at a local school could integrate architecture and local strategies as more than just a practical response, but one that would stimulate the students, while also making water collection accessible, transparent and a conscientious act.”

This is reinforced through the addition of exercise machines that have been placed around the classroom to power pumps that move the water between the underground storage areas. Pylonesque combines the climatic context and vernacular typologies to form a flexible space that is appropriate to the Thai climate, while not relying on artificial cooling or lighting.

Pareid co-founder Deborah López told Dezeen that the pavilion’s features — including high ceilings, an open plan, a wall-less perimeter, and specific furnishings such as translucent vinyl for light and water boiled plywood for thermal insulation — allowed the space to blend with and utilize the surrounding natural environment. 

Pylonesque’s main structure is made from a simple steel frame that takes its form from electricity pylons, providing the building its name. The use of the pylons allowed the building to double as scaffolding and be mounted by hand during construction. López states: “Geometrically, the structure as a whole is made of a repetition of inverted umbrella-like modules that can be built with a limited  number of unique cuts and measurements but still allow for a geometric complexity.” 

The structure’s red steel frame is topped with purple corrugated zinc panels and red canopies to give the building a distinct identity and contrast it with the other school buildings. Pareid also designed a range of modular furniture that students and staff can rearrange and adapt as needed. 

In all, Pylonesque presents a performative, engaging and usable space for a school, that is greatly informed its surrounding context.

Got an innovative water-based project of your own? Enter it in the new Architecture +Water category at the 8th Annual A+Awards for a shot at international publication and global recognition. Submit your projects before March 27th to be in the running.

All Photography is by Beer Singnoi

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