Border School (School for Burma)

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The Border School is a shortlisted design entry for an international competition organised by Building Trust International. It is intended to provide teaching accommodation for children of migrant families in Mae Sot, Tak, Thailand, close to the border of Burma. The land on which the school is situated is leased as migrant teachers and students cannot legally own it. As such, landlords may take over the land together with any buildings on it at anytime. As such, the school is designed as a modular portable school that can be easily dismantled and re-assembled on another possible site.

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Bamboo is the main construction material, chosen mainly for the availability of the material in the area. It is also lightweight, strong and flexible, making it conveniently transportable. The school consists of a large open bamboo deck, raised 600mm off the ground and it contains the reception and canteen. To this deck is connected a series of modular classroom structures arranged around it. There are 6 classrooms altogether, each accommodating up to 20 students.

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The number of unique joints are minimised as far as possible to increase portability and ease of assembly. Joints are kept simple and ‘low-tech’, employing simple pin joints and nylon string lashings. The only permanent construction elements are the foundation stumps which are reinforced concrete with 300mm high pre-casted cylindrical metal tubes to receive the bamboo columns. During assembly, the bamboo columns and roof frames will be mainly pre-fabricated on the ground before they are hoisted into position. Roofs are metal decking, insulated to keep spaces below it cool, whereas raised floors are split bamboo panels.

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