From 1979 to 1984, the province of Kanchanaburi witnessed the construction of the Vajiralongkorn dam.
The dam came with promises of modernity, but it also brought with its hardships. Many villages in the Thong Pha Phum district, where the dam is situated, were left completely cut off from the rest of the world after its construction. Transportation and communication were near impossible, and many villagers were forced to abandon their hometown.
Under these conditions, the Baan Mai Rai Pah branch of the Pieng Luang 3 School was left neglected without proper access to educational resources or spaces. The shortage of space, in particular, left some of the students with no other options but to transfer to another school to receive their education.
The 82th Rural Development Camp Volunteers from the Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University was given the opportunity to design and construct “Kor Kaew Pid Sa Darn” (“The Miracle Glass Blocks”), a classroom designed to help alleviate the school’s lack of proper educational spaces. Due to the fact that the school is located further into the Vajiralongkorn dam, transportation and delivery of construction materials were extremely challenging. This, in combination with budget and time restraint, meant that the project had to be precisely planned out to avoid difficulties during the construction period.
The Kor Kaew Pid Sa Darn classroom, designed and built by the Rural Development Volunteers within 16 days, is a 5.85×9 m classroom with 1.5 cantilevered floors on both sides. Due to the limitation on both time and budget, the design team decided to use metal and concrete for the structural system of the building. The walls on the shorter sides of the building were finished with wooden planks, while a combination of concrete blocks, wooden planks and glass blocks were used for the longer sides. The glass blocks were used to bring natural light into the classroom. The design team also left spaces on the upper corner of the walls to allow for air ventilation.
Kor Kaew Pid Sa Darn not only helped increase the number of students the school can support to 67, but also served as a small area for us, the Rural Development Volunteers, to gain priceless experience in construction, design, and many other valuable life lessons which cannot be found elsewhere. We, the volunteers from Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University sincerely hope that Kor Kaew Pid Sa Darn will be able to fulfil its purpose as a venue where the students of Baan Mai Rai Pah can experience the joy of learning — just as it had been for us as well.