It was fantastic to receive an update from MOVINGschool 003 and see the newly added bamboo façades to give further protection to the school classrooms. Along with our classrooms it was great to hear that our friends at Agora Architects had also designed and built a new classroom for the pupils at Hope school.
In May, the BTi team visited Mae Sot to gain an update on our MOVINGschools and also to see an exciting new project working with Ironwood to renovate schools within the border town.
First we visited MOVINGschool 001 which looked in great shape, which even had a family of birds nesting in our bamboo blinds.
We also visited New Road school and were given a kind gift from one of the teachers; a photo of her pupils using their new school building for their end of year exams.
It was great to see the school renovation project our friends at Ironwood had been working on and see where our donation to the project went.
We hope to give updated annually from our MOVINGschools to keep you up to date with how the buildings are doing.
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.
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.
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,
My Vodafone WOD placement at Building Trust international may have finished but work doesn’t stop. With the rainy season quickly approaching in Thailand it was very important that we work with the local teachers and parents of New Road school to set the foundations for their new school before the rains started. Having previously set the grid for the foundations and bringing truck tyres to site we were ready to start digging the holes and setting the foundations. With the parents and teachers keen to help out it was left to their committee to dig the 14 foundation holes. Overnight, 7 parents and teachers excavated the foundations to precise accuracy. This was fantastic as it meant by day two we could begin filling in the holes with truck tyres and a concrete mixture. It was amazing to arrive at site the next day and see the vast number of people ready and waiting to carry out work on the foundations. With sand, gravel and tyres delivered to site we were ready to begin mixing the concrete mixture and setting the foundations.
A team of men from the committee began mixing the concrete mixture by hand, with a further team delivering buckets of sand and gravel to the mix. Within less than an hour several of the foundation holes were set, it was easy to see that many of the people helping had a background in the construction industry.
It was great to have Jay a volunteer from Chile on site to help with the foundations, he carefully fed rebar into the foundation feet to give added support. It was not only volunteers and parents who helped out but also the pupils of the New Road school. They were happy to carry buckets of the sand and gravel to the site and were excited to see the start of their new school.
To ensure the foundation holes were level a home made plumb bob and line was made from a stone and string to ensure all foundations were at right angles. Each foundation post was also clearly marked with a marker pen to show the centre position of the foundation for ease when the steel frame structure is fitted to the foundations posts at a later date.
After just a few hours all the foundations were set and ready for the upcoming rainy season. This will be a great benefit when we begin the construction of the school in June as it is easier to mix concrete and work on foundations without the rain.
After 2 days all 14 foundations holes were completed! The steel for the school frame structure has been delivered to the Iron Wood workshop for the apprentices to begin drilling holes and cutting the steel to construct the frames. I look forward to updating you on the school build progression soon.
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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.
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.
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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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.
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:
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.
Thanks for reading,
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.
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!
Well, I am very excited to have gained the WOD placement with my chosen charity Building Trust for a second year running. This year I will be continuing my work developing relationships with Universities to promote design as a tool for social change. I look forward to implementing several design briefs to Universities in the UK, Europe and USA in a hope to challenge students to come up with innovative design solutions to humanitarian problems. Through doing this we hope to get students and tutors thinking about interesting design solutions and encourage them to use their skills to help those most in need. I look forward to sharing with you details of the upcoming University projects.
I will also be discussing the projects we are currently setting to our International volunteers developing research on a variety of areas which we feel need to be analysed and studied in more detail. Building Trust has a large network of design professionals, engineers and architects who donate their skills to worthwhile projects. If you wish to participate in our volunteer programme then please do get in touch.
During my Vodafone WOD placement, I will also be giving an update on the ‘Moving School’s project which I blogged about last year (see full details of my previous blog here).
The ‘Moving Schools’ project provided a mobile, modular school for 150 migrant refugee children in the town of Mae Sot on the Thai/Burma border. I am very pleased to share with you the latest pictures of the school which is now in full use. The school build took place between June – October in 2012 and was constructed in partnership with Youth Connect, local craftsmen, international volunteers and the Building Trust team.
In a recent visit to the school it was fantastic to see the excitement and happiness on the children’s faces as they sat in their new school building. In the previous building students of all grades took their classes in one small dark building, the students now have their own individual classrooms which are light and airy. It was fantastic to hear in discussions with the school teachers that the new building was having a positive impact on teaching and learning. The classes were easier to teach due to having separate classrooms, which provided a quieter place to teach, giving students increased concentration.
It was great to discuss with Chan Chan (the headmistress) and the school teachers the benefits and issues with the new building. Although the main feedback was very positive, some additional components need to be added to the structure to ensure the building is watertight for the upcoming rainy season. We will be working with the apprentices from Youth Connect to ensure the building is prepared for the weather. Chan Chan also wished for one of the classrooms to be completely blocked off to allow a library and storage room to be added to the building.
In order to add a personal touch to the building, we decided to hold a school photo day taking photos of each grade with their teacher. As we approached the school, we could feel the excitement in the air as the students all dressed in their best clothes formed a line along the old school building in preparation to have their photos taken. From the adorable Kindergarten class who wore their princess dresses and traditional outfits to the grown up Grade 6 boys who stood proudly at the back, it was a truly magical day which I hope all the kids enjoyed. We look forward to printing the photos off for the students so they can place them proudly in their new classrooms.
I look forward to sending details of the University projects in my next blog!
Thanks for reading!
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.
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.
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.
First the aluminium extrusions are connected to the steel frame with self tapping screws at approx. 200mm centres.
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.
When the plastic is stretched and tight across the whole roof, then a second layer of aluminium is fitted on top.
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!
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.
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.
LIVE UPDATE: Moving Schools project – Frames for School modules are up!
After a successful day placing the first school frame into position, everyone from teachers and students to volunteers were very excited about the upcoming weeks and the fast progress, happening on the build. We spent the next week finishing the remaining foundation posts on the second line of the classrooms. It was very rewarding to see the first school module in the corner of the site, a reminder of the success that comes from the hard work of digging and fitting the foundation posts.
In an effort to recruit further volunteers to assist with the build, we placed posters throughout Mae Sot in guesthouses and cafes to entice more people to help out. We were very happy to receive a call from a Belgian family who saw our poster and thought a few days volunteering on our school project would be a great way to spend time on their holiday. Hans, An, Emile and Yann were a great boost of energy to our project, Hans helped David, Pablo and Jim with foundations while An and her sons Emile (10) and Yann (5) helped me with painting. It was great to see a family taking a month break from work to enjoy family time in Thailand and also help out with a volunteering project. Our youngest volunteers so far were definitely the most energetic painting the ceiling and flooring frames in no time at all.
When we originally visited Mae Sot in January 2011, we were shown around some of the school buildings by a Spanish NGO, Colabora Birmania. We have since stayed in touch with the NGO and were very lucky to be offered three new Spanish volunteers to help out on the build. David, Guiomar and Izaga are in Mae Sot for a month and have very kindly offered to volunteer on our ‘Moving Schools’ project. They quickly got to grips with the task of fitting foundation posts. It was easy to keep momentum up when carrying out the foundation posts as we could see the eager to learn children being taught outside their current school classroom to allow the teacher the much needed further space and quiet area she needed to teach. We saw the children playing a number game with their teacher with a game kindly donated by Imagine Thailand. We look forward to seeing the teacher and her students playing the number game in their newly built school classrooms very soon.
With only two weeks left until we fly home, we placed a deadline as to when all the steel had to be cut, painted and drilled at the workshop. We were very glad to see the workshop team work through the weekend to ensure all steel was ready in time. On Friday, we hired a 6 wheel truck to move all the steel to construct the school project from the Global Neighbors workshop to Thu Kha Hang Sar school. With our newly trained volunteers and a few spare hands courtesy of the workers from the Two Wheels Bike shop we had a team in place to move the steel to site. As we patiently waited at the workshop for the driver to arrive, excitement was building as our team knew today we would hopefully assemble all the frames.
As the truck manoeuvred around the workshop site, the team loaded the truck with all the different sections of steel, from columns to floor joists and ceiling beams. It was great to know that the steel needed for 10 classroom modules would fit comfortably onto the 6 wheel truck and reassuring to know that this school really was a ‘Moving School.’
Quickly the piles of the steel around the workshop decreased and within an hour the truck was fully loaded and ready to travel to the school site.
David, our volunteers and I jumped into our truck and led the 6 wheel truck to the school site. We travelled through the small village of Mae Pa where we tightly squeezed through narrow roads passing day markets and buffalo’s on the road. Driving through rice paddy fields, we saw workers carrying out their daily chores and then finally we drove up the final small hill to the school to see our first module standing proud through the corn fields. It was exciting to know we were about to construct 9 further modules.
As the sun came out over lunch time, the team prepared to remove the very hot steel from the truck into the school grounds. We spoke with Chan Chan the school headmistress to explain that the children needed to stay inside while the steel was moved. As the piles of steel from the truck were slowly moved in the mid day sun to the school, we could hear the children inside standing on their tip toes to see what we were doing. Chan Chan told the children that we would be building the remaining school frames and they spoke to her with excitement and asked when they could be taught in the new school. It was great to know that both the teachers and students were excited about their new school building.
The next task was to lay out the steel into position on the floor and bolt together. The frames could then be lifted up moved into place next to foundation holes and slotted into position.
Thu Kha Hang Sar school sadly had their electricity cables stolen recently therefore there is no electricity on site. With no power to charge the tools needed to construct the frames, we managed to hire a generator which powered the drills needed for the build. As the majority of the team constructed the frames on the school grounds, workers Nain and Aung Myint Soe tested the water level across the school and marked out where the holes to place the frames were to be drilled.
With the height measured, it was time to place the frames into place:
The team quickly got the hang of moving the frame into position and were quickly slotting the frames into place.
Finally the first line of modules is complete with the 4th and 5th module in place.
With daylight ending, we decided to re-group the next day to finish the second row of modules. We met bright and early on Saturday morning and managed to put up the remaining frames during the hours when the rain stopped.
It was incredible to see the frames on the school site, it gave us a real sense of what the final building will look like. Chan Chan and the teachers arrived to school on Monday morning and were very happy to see their new school building really taking shape.
Now we wait patiently for the roofing and flooring to arrive from Bangkok which we hope to install at the weekend. Meanwhile, the workshop team are still very busy construction the bamboo wall panels and the remaining roof frames. A very busy and exciting few weeks are in store!