Earthquakes have the power of transforming our buildings into death traps. More often than not, it is the developing countries which suffer the consequences of earthquakes more, due to the lack of seismic-proof buildings.

In May 2014, a severe earthquake hit the Chiang Rai Province in northern Thailand. The disaster decimated schools, destroying 73 and displacing over 2,000 students. Following the event, the charity Design for Disasters (D4D) launched a rebuilding programme, asking several local studios to design earthquake-resistant schools for the most affected areas.

Thai architects Vin Varavarn Architects were commissioned to design of them, the Baan Huay Sarn Yaw School.

The school sits on a sloped ground thanks to its steel stilts and merges effective earthquake-resistant building techniques with contemporary, sleek aesthetics. The materials are a mixture of lightweight tech solutions and naturally sourced timber panels. The building is light and strong, and semi-translucent thanks to the extensive roof-lights.

We particularly like the planters on the side of the building, which bring a natural touch to the structure. In regards, the architects explain; “flower pots represent our message to remind the children that, in spite of the harsh and cruel realities caused by natural disasters, nature can also bring beauty and joy to every day of their lives.


The school was funded the charity Design for Disasters following a devastating earthquake in Thailand in May 2014. [Source: Spaceshift Studio]
The school was funded the charity Design for Disasters following a devastating earthquake in Thailand in May 2014. [Source: Spaceshift Studio]
Skylights create an airy atmosphere within the classroom of this lightweight, strong, earthquake resistant school. [Source: Spaceshift Studio]
Skylights create an airy atmosphere within the classroom of this lightweight, strong, earthquake resistant school. [Source: Spaceshift Studio]
The shock-proof school combines two materials - bamboo and steel - known for their lightweight nature and strength. Here we can see an example of bamboo planter shelves supported by the steel structure. [Source: Spaceshift Studio]
The shock-proof school combines two materials – bamboo and steel – known for their lightweight nature and strength. Here we can see an example of bamboo planter shelves supported by the steel structure. [Source: Spaceshift Studio]
At night, the beauty of the architecture comes alive, thanks to the strips of light which glow out from the building's numerous skylights. [Source: Spaceshift Studio]
At night, the beauty of the architecture comes alive, thanks to the strips of light which glow out from the building’s numerous skylights. [Source: Spaceshift Studio]
The front facade of the school showcasing the strong pentagonal geometry of the building. [Source: Spaceshift Studio]
The front facade of the school showcasing the strong pentagonal geometry of the building. [Source: Spaceshift Studio]
The structure of the building is exposed even down to the wall construction. This was a concise choice on behalf of the architects, as they wanted to give the students within confidence in the strength of the building: their protection should another earthquake hit. [Source: Spaceshift Studio]
The structure of the building is exposed even down to the wall construction. This was a concise choice on behalf of the architects, as they wanted to give the students within confidence in the strength of the building: their protection should another earthquake hit. [Source: Spaceshift Studio]
Daytime exterior shot of the long facade of the school. Notes the use of locally sourced bamboo strips clearly to soften the roof panels. [Source: Spaceshift Studio]
Daytime exterior shot of the long facade of the school. Note the use of locally sourced bamboo strips clearly to soften the roof panels. [Source: Spaceshift Studio]
At night, the long elevation is seen lighting up like a beacon. [Source: Spaceshift Studio]
At night, the long elevation is seen lighting up like a beacon. [Source: Spaceshift Studio]
Planters half soften the structure and allow for nature to seep into the building. [Source: Spaceshift Studio]
Planters half soften the structure and allow for nature to seep into the building. [Source: Spaceshift Studio]
The design touches the ground lightly thanks to the use of its rows of stilts. The latter are also an elegant way of negotiate the sloped site. [Source: Spaceshift Studio]
The design touches the ground lightly thanks to the use of its rows of stilts. The latter is also an elegant way to negotiate the sloped site. [Source: Spaceshift Studio]