Min Buri Old Market Library & Klong Toey Community Lantern
Bangkok, Thailand. TYIN Tegnestue
TYIN Tegnestue architects are particularly concerned with developing architecture that provides solutions to real and fundamental challenges in third world countries such as Haiti, Thailand and Cambodia. In relation to these challenges such as limited access to services like health, water, sanitation, housing, education and employment TYIN aims to “produce architecture where everything serves a purpose - architecture of necessity”.
The architects operate in a way that their projects provide the local community with an opportunity to improve their living environments. This is done through designing and building community minded projects that establish a future framework with which the local community benefit. Benefits come not only from the improvement of a building or an area but also from the exchange of knowledge that comes through the construction of the project.
Min Buri Old Market Library is located on the canal in a 100 year old market building. Due to many factors including a fire and regular flooding of the nearby canal, Min Buri’s commercial centre shifted, leaving the once thriving area in which the Old Market Library is located significantly diminished. The result being a almost slum-like area with very little sanitation or infrastructure. Klong Toey Community Lantern project approaches similar challenges, located in the largest area of informal housing, this project, like Min Buri Market begins to provide the local communities with the infrastructure to tackle social issues such as health and education. In addition, both projects engage the community in the construction and the design with this process lasting up to a year. This provides members of the local community with the tools, skills and knowledge to further extend the improvements throughout the community.
TYIN approached both projects through an extensive study, involvement and engagement within the communities, the area and the people. This included conducting a process of mapping the needs in the community through surveys and regular meetings. This approach placed the architects in a position which they could better understand the basic needs and wants of each community and become better equipped to work with the community throughout the construction process. TYIN’s approach to sustainability in these projects works in two ways, one being about a social sustainability to address issues of poverty, sanitation, housing shortage, pollution and basic shelter and the other being environmental sustainability to address flooding, ventilation, waste and light. TYIN work in a way where these issues are addressed at a local scale rather than a global one, aiming for a knock-on effect. By strategically locating the building in its context and carefully selecting the program within, the architecture begins to provide the infrastructure for these issues to be addressed meanwhile providing shelter for the basic needs of the community.
TYIN solution to these issues produced designs, construction processes and program that encourages the communities to re-engage with themselves through the attachment to a tangible and positive development. This premise was required not only for the initiative of future positive development but for the construction and long term function of the spaces.The resultant buildings and spaces work at a variety of levels and scales, are flexible, increase industry, provide joy for children and spaces to learn and play, use local materials and are simply sustainable, without the use of expensive equipment. The spaces also operate without the need for employment and are able to withstand real public use. They operate in a similar way to how the street or the public square operates - with necessity, function and a sort of toughness, but also with joy, colour and approachability.
The spaces work at the very local scale. The projects operate at the street level, with the choice of material being key to this idea. In addition, the use of local materials such as bamboo and timber work to ensure the project operates within the community bounds. At a smaller scale, particularly in the Min Buri Library project, TYIN were concerned with flooding in the area resulting in the design of aired connections and series of levels for different stages of the annual flooding.
Min Buri Old Market Library is an open, public space for children to learn, play and perform. It includes a reading area with boxed shelves, a raised study area and a shaded backyard. Klong Toey Community Lantern is also a public space, football ground and playground, flexible enough for future unforeseen changes within the community. Both projects resulted in unexpected programs, for example, when restoring the old shop house for the project in Min Buri, the community removed many weeds from the canal bank, opening the space where now children and men fish, providing much needed food for the locals.
TYIN’s time spent researching, engaging and involving the community in the design and construction is the key component in how these spaces work. Part of this research was looking at the vernacular of the area. In the Min Buri project TYIN looked closely at the shop house and other canal vernacular. By doing this they understood not only the construction techniques prevalent in the community but also how the community understands there own context. An unlikely sophisticated arrangement of space the shop house works to keep the inhabitants cool in the warmer season and the materials dry and rot free in the wetter season. TYIN also understood this and implemented it particularly well in the Old Market Library design – by using the same and adapted ventilation techniques, particularly to keep the materials free of rot during and after a flood. They also adapted the courtyard area with modern screening with local timber to provide much needed shade in the area.
Challenges and Opportunities
A crucial factor in the continuation of these project is that the construction is part of a long term strategy and part of a development on a larger scale. TYIN considered each project as a small contribution that might lead to larger scale, positive change.Each project has its own challenges and opportunities. Klong Toey Community Lantern had limited space on the site for development for such a large residential area that housed 140,000 people. As expected with a large amount of people, the needs of the building and public space needed to be very flexible with a sense of adaptability.The main construction´s simplicity, repetition and durability enables these adaptations which fit with the communities changing needs. At the same time the adaptions don’t run the risk of endangering the projects structural strength or the general usability of the playground. This way the project runs alongside the ever changing surroundings and coincides with the idea that the project could encourage more sustainable developments in the Klong Toey area.
Min Buri Old Market library’s challenge came in it being accepted by the community and getting locals, especially adults, involved in the project. However, on involvement, locals began to develop an attachment to the library, a sense of achievement and pride; something that was a premise for the library to function in the long term. The opportunity being that for locals, the project demonstrates what can be achieved, through self initiative, using local inexpensive materials and their own knowledge.
All images sourced from http://www.archdaily.com/25785/old-market-library-tyin-tegnestue/