Buddhanimit Temple extension contains dormitory for novice monks

A team of local architects has added new amenities to a temple school in rural Thailand, using affordable materials and parts of an existing building to keep project costs down.

Architects Skarn Chaiyawat, Rina Shindo and Witee Wisuthumporn designed a dormitory for the school at Buddhanimit Temple, which is located near the city of Udon Thani in northeast Thailand.

The school provides free education to families who are unable to afford public schooling, as well as accommodation for novice monks.

An increase in enrolment led the school to consider expanding by developing a new dormitory building for the novices.

The original plan for a two-storey structure was discarded in favour of a more affordable alternative involving the conversion of an abandoned classroom, which the architects proposed following a thorough site inspection and workshops with the end users.

A benefit of utilising the existing structure is that the resulting savings could be put to use to build an additional library and washroom for use by the novice monks.

“Novice Living Quarters intends to produce a design that is environmentally friendly, respectful of its context, and contributing to the novice monks’ ways of living,” said the architects.

Existing reinforced-concrete beams and columns were saved and new elements including a double-layered masonry wall and a tiled roof added to create a building able to accommodate 40 novice monks.

The monks share bedrooms arranged along a large corridor that functions as a communal leisure space. Translucent tiles incorporated into the roof allow natural light to reach the bedrooms.

The open-air corridor is lined with a wall made from cement ventilation blocks that are angled to provide privacy whilst allowing daylight and fresh air to pass through. Another strip of translucent roof tiles helps to illuminate the covered corridor.

A communal bathing area erected behind the dormitory building is used by all the novices housed on the site and is intended as a place for casual meetings and conversations.

Sinks and basins in the bathing area are cast from the same reinforced concrete as columns used to support a steel roof structure. The roof incorporates alternating opaque and translucent tiles intended to distribute an even light throughout the space below.

In addition to the original brief, the architects proposed a library that adjoins the existing school building and employs passive design methods to promote natural ventilation and minimise unwanted heat or light from the sun.

The structure is raised above the ground to keep the floor cool and is positioned so that sunlight reflecting off the existing building’s facade illuminates the interior without overheating the space or damaging the books inside.

An amphitheatre with a wind tunnel in which monks can levitate was recently completed in central China. Designed by Latvian studio Mailītis Architects, the amphitheatre has been included in our inaugral Dezeen Awards architecture longlist.

Photography is by Chaovarith Poonphol.


Project credits:

Architects: Skarn Chaiyawat, Rina Shindo and Witeewisuthumporn
Energy consultant: Achareeya Chaiyasamut

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