Tag Archives: Education

Turning a car park into a play park for students

Over the upcoming weeks we will be turning a car park into a play park for students at the Cambodian Children’s Fund‘s school.

The project which was initially designed alongside local students with the Building Trust team takes on the children’s designs creating a play space from recycled tyres in an unused space of their school site.


The space (above)


Tyres for playground get a paint job!


Tyres are painted and ready to be placed into position!


Playground starts to take shape.

Keep reading to be kept up to date with the progress of our 3 playgrounds. See our Facebook album for more photos!



Cool School Winners Announced

How do you get to school if it’s minus 45 °C outside? How
do you gain an education when your nearest school is 20km
away? Witnessing this problem Building Trust international
launched an international design competition to challenge
designers and architects to provide a design solution which has
the chance to shape the future of school buildings across cold
regions globally.

I am thrilled to announce the winners of the Cool School Design competition:


WINNERS of the Cool School competition Kyle Wylde, Nathan Woodward, Stephen Hawkins and Charley Burrough from UK Architectural practice PLACE By Design.

A diverse and enthusiastic Urban Design and Architectural practice based in Bristol, UK have been announced as the winners in a design competition that hopes to provide a safe, comfortable, learning environment for 100 pupils, withstanding extreme temperatures in Mongolia. The competition had 475 registered entrants and a jury including representatives from Building Trust International, World Vision, UNICEF, The Mongolian Education Alliance, GIZ and most importantly the local Governor and school committee.

Building Trust international will be working closely with World Vision Mongolia and local partners to deliver the winning design during Summer 2015. We look forward to building the winning design which will deliver a new innovative school design to a much needed community in Khovd, Mongolia. I will be posting updates live from the build which will be taking place this Summer.

Check out the Honourable Mentions from the competition:


Maria Elena Beccaria Balduzzi and Martin Didžys based in Denmark.


Daniela Zuanigh, Jennifer Schiano and Carlotta Giusti from Italy


Andrew Kwok and David Majoe from the UK who are currently studying at the University of Bath


Lateral Office (Toronto, CAN) Lola Sheppard, Mason White, Kate Holbrook-Smith and Jack Lipson


Arup and Arup Associates


Yuval Zohar, Livio Ercoli, Guo Xiaojuan, Victor Vieaux and Mei Zhang from Shanghai-based MUDI Architects


Amirabbas Aboutalebi, Hooman Balazadeh, Yasaman forootan, Fatemeh Tajik, Artshin Mazoji, Hoda barzegar ganji and Samira Hajinasiri from Iran



Ragy Aly Mostafa Elsayed Elgendy, Marwa Kamel AbdelHamid El Sayed, Merna Nabil Saad Henen, Aymen Jamal Mohamed Abdelmaksoud, Hebaallah AbdelWahab Mohamed Fathi and Lora Nabil Saad Henen from Pharos University in Alexandria, Egypt.


Gary Robson, Sam Mitson
Nathan Mundy and Thora Arnardottir from Brightspace Architects in the UK

I would like to thank all those participants who took part in such an exciting competition.

Thanks for reading,


Moving School 003 complete

Mae Sot, Thailand

It has been a while since I last updated you with the progress of Moving School 003 at Hope School on the outskirts of Mae Sot in Thailand. After the foundations were fitted by the local community it was time to bolt together the structure for the classrooms.

Steel frame structure Moving School 003
Steel frame structure Moving School 003

Moving School 003 consists of 2 large classrooms which will be a cool, light learning environment for the pupils of Hope School. After the steel structure was secured in place, the next step was to fit the roof material. The Ironwood team along with Jan Glasmeier from Agora Architects and the Building Trust team fixed the roof into place before the rainy season really began!

Fixing Roof material to Moving School 003
Fixing Roof material to Moving School 003
Rainy season starts in Mae Sot!!
Rainy season starts in Mae Sot!!

With the roof firmly secured in place the team were able to begin fitting the cementitious wood floor boards into the school structure and began fixing the twin polycarbonate material for the wall panels into place. The polycarbonate material was kindly donated by Bayer Thailand.

Twin polycarbonate material for walls is fitted
Twin polycarbonate material for walls is fitted

The final result of the Moving School 003 design is truly fantastic, not only will the structure provide a light and clean environment for the students but the structure also fits well into the bamboo forest surroundings.

Moving School 003
Moving School 003
Moving School 003 internal classroom
Moving School 003 internal classroom

Many thanks to all those involved in the construction of Moving School 003 and to Bayer Thailand for their very generous donation of fabric to create the walls of Moving School 002 and 003.

We look forward to sharing further images of the pupils enjoying their new school building in the coming months.

Thanks for reading,


Moving School 002 complete!

With the roof and floor installed at the New Road site, the Ironwood team were ready to fit the walls to the school building.  After a successful meeting with Bayer AG, a German chemical and pharmaceutical company in Bangkok we received the fantastic news that the organisation would provide the wall material for both Moving School 002 and 003. The material to be used was a twin walled polycarbonate which has the benefit of being lightweight, durable and UV resistant and would allow the internal classrooms to be kept cool and light.

A member of the Bayer team from the Bangkok office kindly agreed to visit us in Mae Sot bringing with him a wealth of knowledge as to how to install the material. He instructed us the best methods of using the material and the suitable fixings to ensure the product remained water tight.


The next step was to construct the wooden panels which would hold the plastic sheets in place. When all panels were finished and made in the workshop they were taken to the Moving School 002 site to be installed while classes continued for the school pupils in the old cramped building.

New Road pupils in their old school building
New Road pupils in their old school building

The wooden panels were built with sections to be used for windows which will add extra ventilation and light when needed into the classrooms.

We were very happy to see Moving School 002 nearly complete and looking fantastic! We would like to thank Bayer for kindly donating the polycarbonate material which will ensure the classrooms stay light and airy and have a great impact on the learning environment of the pupils from New Road.

It was now time for the Opening Ceremony and Bayer kindly treated the boys & girls of New Road to ice cream and a new school book.

Opening Ceremony of Moving School 002
Opening Ceremony of Moving School 002
Inside MOVINGschool 002
Inside MOVINGschool 002

We would like to thank the fantastic team at Ironwood for their hard work and dedication and to Jan from Agora Architects for his support and assistance. We look forward to sharing with you photos of the pupils in their new school classrooms very soon!

Thanks for reading,


Work on Moving Schools 002 begins

The new site
The new site

Well things are really progressing with Moving Schools 002 at New Road School in Mae Ramat. The new site has been cleared and this week parents and teachers from the school committee will begin digging foundation holes for their new school.  The PTA meeting which was held last week was a great way to discuss the school design with the local community and gain their feedback on the design.

Parents and teachers review the school design
Parents and teachers review the school design

By reviewing a scale model of the school design with the PTA members the Building Trust team were able to clearly understand the needs of the school committee and the pupils. There will be five classrooms made from a steel frame as constructed in the first Moving Schools build. The building will feature two large classrooms and three smaller classrooms which will be divided by walls which the parents and teachers will construct themselves.

Decision on placement of the new building
Decision on placement of the new building

It is great to see how pro active the local community members are in building a new school for their children. They were happy to take time of during the Songkran holiday season to get started on the build of the new classrooms. I look forward to keeping you posted with details of the school build over the upcoming months.

A few photos of the first day on site plotting the grid for their new school building:

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Thanks for reading,


Suk San Wan Songkran

Just in time for the Thai New Year Festival ‘Songrkan,’ Building Trust’s first Moving School for Thu Kha Hang Sar students is complete. As the temperatures in Thailand rise and work becomes more difficult due to the extreme heat of 40 degrees, we are very happy to say all work for the first Moving Schools project has been finished.

One Classroom with window and white board installed
One Classroom with window and white board installed

The new pulley system which is used to open and close the windows throughout the school has been fully installed and explained to the  headmistress. The new window system will allow the classrooms to remain cool during rainy season while providing  protection from the rain and added security.

It will be great to see how the children interact with the changes to their new school when they return to class in June.

I am very happy to share with you photos of Moving Schools 001:

Fully open side of school with 5 classrooms (windows open)
Fully open side of school with 5 classrooms (windows open)
External view
External view

The success of the first Moving Schools project has been proven as Building Trust have been requested to build a further mobile, modular school design in the nearby town of Mae Ramat, Thailand. I look forward to sharing with you photos of a recent Parent’s Teacher’s Association meeting at New Road School, where the design of Moving Schools 002 was discussed and agreed with the school committee.  Work on the build will began shortly, with parents of the school children working with Building Trust to dig the foundation holes for their new school building.

Open space classroom
Open space classroom

Thanks for reading,



Live Update from Moving Schools 001


I am very happy to share with you an update live from the Thai/Burma border with details of the progress of the first Moving Schools project at Thu Kha Hang Sar school. To prepare the school for the upcoming rainy season, we have re-recruited the team from Iron Wood part of the Youth Connect social enterprise to carry out necessary metal and wood work on the school site. In order to ensure the building is water tight we will be adding additional wall structure to the school which will also provide extra security. We are currently installing a steel frame to the outside wall panels. The steel frame contains a section with a built in white board which will be of great benefit to the teachers. The Iron Wood team are also installing a window for each classroom which can be opened and closed by a clever pulley system.

The additional steel frame window structures will ensure the internal structure is rain tight.  The great benefit of the pulley system windows will allow the classrooms to maintain cool air circulation whilst also giving added protection to the building.

Installing white boards
Installing white boards

Wooden panels have been added to the current floor boards to allow the wood and bamboo wall panels which were made last Summer to sit along the corridor of the school. These panels can then be taken down in dry season to create the current open plan design. Adding this feature will allow the teachers to have dual purpose classrooms which can be closed off in rainy season and open in dry season.

Please look out for my next blog post which will detail the window pulley system design and photos of the finished school.


Thanks for reading!


The James Dyson Foundation and Brunel

In 2007, I graduated from Brunel University with a degree in Industrial design. Since leaving University and setting up Building Trust, I have been lucky to continue my connection with my former University through setting humanitarian project briefs to eager design students. I was thrilled to have been invited by my former Head of Design to be part of the judging panel for a brief set to the students by The James Dyson Foundation.  I was very keen to attend the judging day and see the exciting solutions that the very same pupils whom I had set a brief to the previous year had come up with.

The same students who had spent weeks coming up with their own solutions to improving the very poor living conditions of migrant workers in Singapore now faced a new design challenge.  The James Dyson Foundation aims to “inspire young people to study engineering and become engineers” and encourages “young people to think differently, make mistakes and invent. ” It was great to meet with the fellow jury members and was reassuring to hear that The James Dyson Foundation had very similar aims to Building Trust;  promoting design as a tool for social change through connecting with young designers and engineers.

The JDF ‘Future Solutions’ Design Brief:

‘Design something that solves a problem caused by extreme weather in the UK’

Solve a first world problem using an iterative design process.

The James Dyson Foundation advised students that 2012 was the UK’s second wettest year on record and also the world’s tenth hottest year. As these trends will continue they felt it was very important that the students tackle these new climate challenges. Students were asked to think about areas such as disaster relief, disaster prevention, damage to houses due to flooding, solutions to problems caused by extreme weather, food crop adaptation due to climate change and water conservation due to drought.

It was great to read a challenging brief and I was eager to see the solutions that the students had come up with. Starting at 10am sharp we spent the day reviewing each students submission, carefully checking whether their design fitted the brief. It was interesting to see that many students had focused on similar ideas such as a new iPhone Application to provide traffic advice in an extreme weather scenario or to warn users of a flood. Many students also looked into tackling preventing damage to homes due to flooding with a similar product which blocked off water to the main front door. It was fantastic to see how the students had progressed from the previous year and it was obvious to see through their designs how passionate they were about humanitarian design. The most interesting solutions however had read the brief very carefully and created new innovative solutions to many of the areas stated above.

I am very happy to share with you the top 5 chosen designs which the selected students will now develop further over the upcoming weeks. In May, The James Dyson Foundation will review the 5 developed projects and choose a winner. The winning design will be given £1500 and runners up will be presented with a Dyson AM04 Fan Heater.

The Dyson 5

Bumble' by Henry Davies
‘Bumble’ by Henry Davies

One of the shortlisted 5 designs was by Henry Davies who designed a product entitled ‘Bumble’. Henry came up with a solution to a problem caused by extreme weather. The ‘Bumble’ alerts the public of an open manhole using a water turbine to power and rotate a LED to warn those nearby.

‘Stretcher Chair’ by Matthew Durbin tackled the issue of how emergency services rescue people during emergency situations. The design converts from a flat stretcher to a mobile chair which two people can use to carry a person to safety.

Jo Gregory Brough’s app design entitled ‘Navigate’ aims to combat transportation issues when bad weather effects the UK. Users are able to share their experience with other app users to gain a greater knowledge of the road and transport conditions.

One of the more technical designs was ‘Deluge’ by D Posner, who decided to tackle flood prevention in the home. The solution to add hydromorphic polymer to the door frame. The polymer would expand when wet and seal the door giving the user added prevention against water damage.

‘Sampan’ by Phongpracha Vadanyakul provides a solution to transporting users who have been injured or trapped by disaster. The rescue raft works on both snow and water and provides an insulated waterproof compartment to prevent users from catching hypothermia.

I am sure you will agree that the designs are very innovative and tackle a wide range of solutions to the questions posed in the brief. It is great to see young people thinking about designing for disaster prevention as well as disaster relief.

I look forward to sharing with you updated developments of the projects and images of the winning design in May.

Thanks for reading.


The school is complete

After completing one side of the school building with the roofing system in place we knew it would not be too long before the whole school build was complete. As the apprentices spent their days dodging the rain and lifting the final set of roofing pieces into place now it was time to lay all the floor boards and fit the bamboo wall panels into place.

Fitting wall panels

The wall panels will section of classroom areas within the school building providing the students and teachers with much needed space to teach individual classes.

On the front section of the classrooms we decided to add a full bamboo wall to give the greatest protection from wind and rain to the classrooms. The apprentices carefully cut bamboo in long sections to slot in place to the shape of the steel classroom frames.

First the bamboo had to be cut and the insides removed to create a strong wall to provide the needed protection.


Hollowing out bamboo

Finally after 3 months of hard work and with a fantastic team of  apprentices, local social enterprises and non profits,  international volunteers, school teachers, TKHS students and their parents help the new school was finished. I am very happy to share with you below some exciting photos of the finished build.

Moving School 001.

Moving School 001

We are very excited to announce that students will be starting their new term on Monday 5th November – I look forward to sharing with you photos of the kids from TKHS in their new school classrooms! So keep reading….

Let’s raise the roof…

UPDATE: Moving Schools Project – The roof goes up!

After a great weekend, with the arrival of the fabric roofing and flooring material for the school build we were very eager to start putting up the roofing system and turn the project from a steel frame into a complete building. The workshop apprentices were now working on site at the school where they were using a generator to construct the larger roof frames on site.

Once a large frame was built by the team, the plastic roofing fabric was fitted to the frame and then a team of workers would lift the frames into place over the steel frames.With the rain not stopping we decided to try and place the first small roof in place. Paul from Youth Connect climbed onto the steel frame as Aung Myint Soe and David pushed the small frame into position.

1st roof section

It was great to finally see a roof section in place and to find out that the plastic roofing caused no sound when the rain hit the roof. With the first small roof in place the next day the team decided to lift a large frame into position to complete the first school module. With scaffolding carefully positioned around the steel frame the team slowly manoeuvred the large roof into place and within a few hours the first two school modules were fitted with roofing system.

First two modules

As the roofs were fitted the volunteers moved the Viva floor boards into place on the school module and the boards were painted. Both top and bottom of the boards were coated in acrylic paint. This layer of paint will provide an essential waterproofing.


After the floor boards were painted David used self tapping, countersunk screws to attach the boards at 50mm centres to the steel floor joists. Slowly we could see the school modules creating an interesting new space which would become the classrooms for the Thu Kha Hang Sar students.

As the floor boards and roofs were being fitted, we began to research a supplier for bamboo blinds which would be fitted to the steel frames adding extra protection from the weather to each module. We were very happy to find out a family in a nearby village manufactured bamboo blinds from their home. Driving through the rice paddie fields and across a winding path led us to where the family created the blinds. We discussed the designs with the family and they agreed to make 30 blinds for the school in two weeks. The family would cut and smoke the bamboo before weaving the bamboo with nylon to create beautiful blinds.

Bamboo blind loom

Bamboo blinds

It was fantastic to be providing the local community with work and great to see even more local produce being taken into the final design. After collecting all the blinds from the local village they were taken to the Youth Connect workshop to be painted with a lacquer to protect the bamboo from insects and water damage. We really looked forward to bringing all the school materials together to see the final school design.

It was great to see more of the roof in place and begin to get a feel for the space and overall design of the building. We were really pleased with the plastic fabric which looked spectacular above the steel frame. The roofing system will provide the students with a quieter classroom environment, sun protection and better ventilation provided through the angles of the roof.

Meanwhile, in the workshop further Burmese workers were employed to finish the bamboo wall panels. A team of two spent two weeks constructing 60 bamboo panels which would create the walls for the school modules.

Wall panel construction

It is great to see all the components of the build coming together and we are looking forward to seeing the finished school build very soon.