The armed conflict that has persisted for decades in the Karen State of Myanmar results in a daily flow of refugees and immigrants to neighbouring Thailand. In the Thai town of Mae Sot, a few kilometres from the Burmese border, numerous schools and orphanages offer accommodation and education. One of these centers, the CDC School (Children Development Center) under the tutelage of Mae Tao Clinic organisation, hosts more than 500 students.
The lack of space, and in many cases, the need for immediate accommodation for new students forced the school to present a new model of temporary low cost dormitories that are easy to assemble and are built by using as many recycled materials as possible.
Funded by the Embassy of Luxembourg in Bangkok, the first of 4 dormitories was built in April 2012 within 4 weeks. With a capacity of 25 students, the building meets the modus vivendi by fitting into the local environment in which it is located.
The interior layout ensures an open and airy space that offers semi-privacy and includes storage space for the students. The materials used are locally available and well known for their users, which allows easy maintenance and results in low cost.
Bamboo and thatch are also used for walls, floor and roof. Though these materials are not prepared to last over two years without any previous treatment, they are all easily available every season and the cost is affordable and stable for the local people.
The recycled timber used for the boarding houses comes from old buildings in town which are carefully stripped out and put aside by demolishers. The timber is accurately polished, de-nailed and sawn down to size. Every timber frame is easy to disassemble and assemble again in a new location.
The quality of the timber available, mainly teak, at the Thai-Burma border is told to be one of the best in the world. However, the price of the timber has risen by over 300 per cent in the last few years due to the deforestation and the illegal trafficking along the border.
Recycling timber has become popular among the local people in order to reduce the cost of the new buildings. By using timber as a main material, we attempt to preserve the traditional construction skills of the local people who are very familiar with this material.