Tag Archives: Schools

The roof arrives!

UPDATE: Moving Schools project – The roof and flooring arrive!

After a fantastic weekend constructing the ten school modules on site, we were eager for the arrival of the roofing fabric and flooring which would turn the steel frame structures into a school building. We received notice on Sunday morning that the UV resistant fabric for the roof had arrived in Bangkok from Germany via Oman. The fabric was very kindly donated to Building Trust by Mehler Texnologies a German company, who offered to provide the fabric for the school project free of charge we then had to pay the shipping cost by air to Thailand. We also awaited the arrival of the flooring which is made from a cementitious wood board by a Thai company called Viva Board. The cementitious wood board looks very similar to the familiar concrete flooring often found in Mae Sot schools, however the vital difference is that the Viva Board can be taken with the school community if they have to move the school in the future. Another package awaiting delivery from Bangkok were the aluminium extrusions, a  product by French company Profil Tensions Systems which would hold the PVC membrane to the steel frame.

After a few days of long, arduous and frustrating phone conversations, trying our hardest to get the fabric released from customs at Bangkok airport we received the great news that on Wednesday afternoon the flooring, extrusions and roofing were on a truck from Bangkok to Mae Sot.

As the truck made it’s way to Mae Sot the volunteers spent 2 days completing 8 foundation holes for the central courtyard. Instead of using truck tyres and digging three tyres deep for the courtyard foundations, we used a smaller car tyres. We were able to use a smaller system for the central courtyard as there will be very little imposed loads on this area of the school.

Student help unload truck

As the final courtyard foundation hole was finished, the truck from Bangkok arrived and the volunteers, David and I wondered how on Earth we would be able to unload the truck containing all the flooring and roofing materials for the school construction. As we tried to come up with the easiest solutions to unload and called friends to see if they could help, out of nowhere a group of 50 students from the school next door, who had just finished playing football started walking in droves up the road. They all huddled together around the back off the truck and looked up to David & the workshop guys to unload the material to them. It was as if by magic a team of incredible, strong children showed up to help us unload. Ranging in ages from 6 – 16, they lifted the rolls of plastic roofing into the school site.

 

With 10 children to a roll the roofing was quickly brought into the school site. Next to be unloaded were the large Viva Boards for the flooring. Over the next hour 140 pieces of Viva board were carried piece by piece into the site, where I stood directing the children where to place the materials. It was fantastic to see how eager and enthusiastic the children were to help out.

We were so relieved that the fabric and roofing materials had arrived safely from Bangkok and could not quite believe the experience of unloading the truck. We truly believed someone/something was looking out for us.

Students from Parami carry Viva board

After an action packed afternoon on Friday, Saturday morning we were to begin work on the roofing sections. There are two sections to the roof, a small roof and one larger roof. Both steel frame roof sections need to be fitted with aluminium extrusions, which hold the plastic roofing material in place. Adrien from Profil Tension System  very kindly flew up from Bangkok to show us how to construct the aluminium and roofing sections.

Adrien from Profil Tension Systems fits aluminium extrusions to steel frame
Adrien from Profil Tension Systems fits aluminium extrusions to steel frame

First the aluminium extrusions are connected to the steel frame with self tapping screws at approx. 200mm centres.

Roofing fabric is stretched over the steel frame
Roofing fabric is stretched over the steel frame

The fabric is then rolled out over the steel frame and cut to the correct size. Small plastic extrusions are then tapped into place at four points across the frame to keep the fabric in place.

The four small plastic extrusions are then removed as a larger piece of plastic extrusion is fitted to the roofing section as the plastic is stretched and tightened across the frame.

Plastic extrusions are fitted
Plastic extrusions are fitted

When the plastic is stretched and tight across the whole roof, then a second layer of aluminium is fitted on top.

Fitting top layer extrusion
Fitting top layer extrusion

The process of fitting aluminium extrusions to plastic onto steel roofing frame took the team just under one hour to complete. Now to complete another 9 small frames and 10 large frames!

Finished small roof
Finished small roof

It was great to see how fantastic the roofing fabric looked against the steel frame and when tested under the rain we could see how resistant the fabric was to the weather and how little noise could be heard when the rain hit the plastic surface. This would be a huge change to the current tin roof which is very noisy and only lasts a few years. We hope that the plastic roof will last for 5-10 years, Chan Chan the Headmistress smiled from ear to ear as she visited the school site and the weekend to see the fabric roofing material. This will be the first of its kind and we hope will make a dramatic improvement to the education of the children at Thu Kha Hang Sar.

Large roofing frame is constructed on site
Large roofing frame is constructed on site

We now wait for a break in the rain to place the 10 small and 10 large roofs onto the steel modules. We hope that we will be able to have the roof up over the next few days. This will allow us to have a dry area where we can begin to fit the Viva board flooring and insert the bamboo wall panels into the school structure.

School Test

Moving Schools Project: Week Two on Site:

Line

After managing to put in the first foundation post at the end of last week, our determined and energetic volunteers worked through the weekend and managed to fix three further foundation posts on site. The team worked through heavy rain, attempting to remove water from the foundation holes before they filled up with new rain water. It was great to see their clear understanding of the tasks, each volunteer knew their role and worked together as a team to construct the foundation posts in a quick and efficient manner.

Placing first tyre into Foundation hole
Placing first tyre into Foundation hole

It takes a great deal of patience and careful orientation to place the truck tyres into the foundation holes. The wires which can be seen in image above plot out the central line of the foundation post. It is very important that the wires remain in the correct place to ensure we have an accurate measurement across the school grid.

Finished foot foundation post

 

On the last day, many of the school students helped out the volunteers to carry gravel to the holes. It was great to see the kids excited about the school project and get involved in lending a hand on site.

We were very sad to loose nine of our volunteers on Tuesday, as they returned to Hong Kong for their Summer break. Ashley, Airi, Stephanie, Charity, Chung, David, Hin, Nicholas and Jim made an incredible impact on the school site and we are very grateful for the help they offered over the last month. Thankfully, Jim will remain with us for another month and our UK volunteers Claire, Ben and Mark will continue to help out over the next week.

HK Volunteers
HK Volunteers

As we awaited recruitment of new volunteers to assist with the foundation posts and with a day of continuous heavy rain the remaining volunteers spent Wednesday at the Global Neighbors workshop. The workshop team had managed to drill all the required holes in the steel and cut to the correct dimensions to allow us to assemble the first classroom module. With great excitement the team assembled the steel construction simply slotting the steel plates in place and bolting together.

Fixing steel components together
Fixing steel components together

It was very exciting to see the pieces come together and gain a real understanding of the size and scale of one school classroom module. It was also very reassuring to know that in no time at all the unit was assembled.

Steel frame
Steel frame

We had the great opportunity to finally see how the bamboo wall panels which the G’yaw G’yaw workers made a few weeks ago would sit inside the steel frame. The frame slotted inside the frame perfectly and the combination of the dark metal steel frame looked fantastic next to the natural bamboo wall panel.  We cannot wait to see how one fully assembled unit with full wall panels, flooring and roof will look very soon.

Bamboo wall panel and Steel frame
Bamboo wall panel and Steel frame

 

Now that we have tested the first module we can confirm all dimensions with the workshop and order steel for the ten classroom modules. Over the next few weeks the apprentices at the workshop will be plotting, marking out and drilling many holes to create the final steel frame structure. The steel will be brought to the school and assembled on site. In the meantime, there is lots of painting to be done!

Painting foundation feet
Painting foundation feet

Why Building Trust International?

Why Building Trust International?

In August 2010 myself and my boyfriend David Cole left our city jobs in London to go traveling. We set off very excited to see the World, visit new cultures and explore new continents. We always had in mind that we would like to do some voluntary work while we were away however we really did not know what we had in store.

On the first part of our trip to South East Asia we visited Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. Along the way we researched about many “Voluntary” placements but were very disappointed to find that most companies charged you to take part in their voluntary schemes. We were saddened by this and felt that people should be able to help out communities in need for free.

In January 2011 we visited Mae Sot, Thailand a small town on the border of Burma. Our visit was to be an eventful and a life changing trip which we will never forget. Before we reached Mae Sot, we were already aware of the large number of Burmese refugees who were seeking refuge in the town. We knew there were many schools in the area looking after the children of migrant workers. On our first day we met Naw Paw Ray, a truly inspirational woman. Naw Paw Ray herself originally from the Karen State of Burma saw a problem in Thailand that non-Thai’s were unable to gain an education in the country. She decided to set-up her own school for non Thai’s in the area which grew to be an umbrella organisation in charge of 65 schools looking after 13,000 displaced children in Mae Sot called the Burmese Migrant Workers Education Commitee.  She kindly took us around the varying level of school buildings in the area, many of which were agricultural sheds with tarpaulin sheds used to make classrooms.

Agricultural shed used as school building, Mae Sot, Thailand
Agricultural shed used as school building, Mae Sot, Thailand
Spelling class with girls at Hsa Htaw Learning Centre
Spelling class with girls at Hsa Htaw Learning Centre

We learned that there was help from many large aid agencies in the area, however Burmese do not have a right to own land in Thailand. This leads to a terrible problem, new school buildings are being built in the area but the land which the building is built on is owned by a local landlord who can then raise the rent of the land forcing the students and teachers out of the school building which they can no longer afford. It was then that a seed of an idea was planted and we came up with an idea to organise an International design competition asking Architects, Designers and Engineers from across the World to come up with a school design which could be constructed and disassembled if the need arose, moved and then reassembled at very little cost .

Well in order to set-up the competition we decided to register Building Trust International with the Charities Commission in the UK. We launched the School4Burma competition in July last year and had an incredible response with over 800 expressions of interest from over 30 countries.

By entering the competition entrants were asked to give a donation of £95 for Professionals and £25 for students with all donations going towards the cost of the school construction. We announced the winners of the competition in December a design by Amadeo Bennetta and Daniel LaRossa from Berkeley, CA.

School 4 Burma - Winning Professional Design
School 4 Burma – Winning Professional Design

We are looking forward to taking the design into the construction phase this summer and I am looking forward to spending the next two months of my placement gaining further public awareness of the design, our charity and the ongoing situation in Burma.

We held an exhibition of the winning and shortlisted designs at a POP up space  on Oxford St, London at the beginning of February which was a great success.

'Moving Schools' exhibition
‘Moving Schools’ exhibition
'Moving Schools' exhibition
‘Moving Schools’ exhibition

The ‘Moving Schools’ event attracted much attention and with the high level of shortlisted designs we are now hoping to gain funding and corporate sponsorship to build the other designs for further communities in need. On my placement I will be looking into finding the funding for these designs.

The more schools we can build the more communities in need we can help.

Today we met with a steel manufacturer to discuss the details of the school build and really start the ball rolling on construction. I will be in charge of coordinating volunteers to assist on the build in Thailand this summer who will not have to pay to work on the build but volunteer their time and services for free.

If you would like to see more of the designs from the competition please visit the Building Trust International website – http://www.buildingtrustinternational.org and be sure to Like our Facebook page.

What started as an idea is really now growing into a huge community of designers, architects and engineers who want to give their time through Building Trust International to help those most in need around the World.

Many thanks for reading I look forward to keeping you up to date with my placement.

Louise McKillop

Co-Founder/Trustee at Building Trust International