LIVE UPDATE: from ‘Moving Schools‘ project – First Classroom module is placed on site

After another successful weekend with new volunteers helping on the school site we were happy with the progress being made. It was great to have volunteers from the UK and Canada working alongside the school teachers and students on their Saturday morning. With the number of long term volunteers slowly depleting it was great to see the arrival of Pablo from Guatemala on Saturday, a civil engineer who will be helping us out in Mae Sot until the end of the project. We also gained a few days volunteering assistance from Wen an Architect who had travelled from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to assist with the build.

New volunteers
New volunteers

On Tuesday, we received news from the workshop that they had finished cutting, drilling, painting and welding one set of steel frames to construct one school module. With this good news David, Pablo, Jim, Wen and I went to the school site to prepare the foundations posts for the arrival of the steel frames. In order to ensure we have the same height across the site, we purchased a 10 meter length of clear plastic tubing to use as a water level. Pablo had recently used this technique on a project build in Guatemala so was able to explain and show the very clever, simple process of ensuring the height across all foundation posts.


The ends of the plastic tubing are held vertical, and the rest of the tubing lies on the ground.  The tube is filled with water, then two people hold the tube and one foundation post is chosen as the reference point. With foundation post chosen, one person stays at the post and holds the tube against the post and waits until the water levels out. The water level at each end of the tube will be at the same elevation, whether the two ends are adjacent or far apart.

Checking water level to reference height
Checking water level to reference height

Then at a second foundation post the other person holds their section of tubing against the second post and waits till the water stops moving up and down. When the water is still the level is marked on the reference post and then on the second post.

This process is repeated across all foundation posts using the reference post against each post.  A very simple method indeed!

On Wednesday, we headed up to the workshop and started loading a truck with the steel for one classroom module.


Thankfully the distance between the workshop and the school site is not too far and the truck managed to drive onto the school site for the steel to be unloaded and laid out onto the ground

Unloading the truck
Unloading the truck

The workshop apprentices drill out the final holes in the foundation posts on site to ensure all sections are fitted to the correct measurements.

The steel columns are laid out on the ground and positioned into place with the floor panels and ceiling sections, which are bolted together. This will allow the two sections of the frame to be lifted up into place over the foundation posts and then bolted together.

First frame is lifted into place
First frame is lifted into place
Second frame is lifted into position
Second frame is lifted into position

When two frames are fitted to foundation posts the structure is secure, however we add a cross brace across the frames for additional support.

Cross brace is fitted to frames
Cross brace is fitted to frames

Next the floor sections are bolted onto the frames, soon we will add the roofing, bamboo wall panels and floor panels onto the school modules but first we must finish the remaining foundation posts and fit the classroom frames into place. The workshop are now planning to work over the weekend and we hope all ten modules will be fitted over the next few weeks.

First school module is fixed into position
First school module is fixed into position

4 thoughts on “Framed”

  1. How exciting!
    Throughout this project the support from the local community has been very impressive. from carrying buckets of gravel to teaching the volunteers how to make bamboo panels.The local apprentices will be receiving invaluable training in building skills and teamwork.
    You have been extremely fortunate in your skilled volunteers. An architect, Pablo, from Guatemala, has arrived to demonstrate a simple, yet ingenious method to ensure your build is level and you also have Wen, an architect,to add his skills to those of David and yourself.Jim has been a faithful help, too..
    You have been very lucky and I congratulate you.. After all your hard work, your dream is taking shape in spite of the rain.

  2. So glad to see the school taking shape. Hope the volunteers keep on coming and I love the tubing trick for getting things level – very clever!

  3. Brilliant to see such great progress despite the rain!! Looking forward to the next update and hope the volunteers continue to be so engaged and valuable.

  4. Great progress is being made, well done. Your volunteers are wonderful, from the parents to the more experienced architects – everyone with a job to do. Hope the weather is kind to you.

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