“Even a brick wants to be something.” This famous Louis Kahn’s quote leaves a lasting impression on the creative circles. As for Thai architectural milieu, it is impossible not to mention the architecture of Kantana Institute where a brick proves to be something big. Designed by Asst. Prof. Boonserm Premthada of the Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University, the Kantana Institute project was selected as the Grand Prize Winner of the ar+d Awards for Emerging Architecture in 2011 and was shortlisted for the Aga Khan Awards for Architecture in 2013.
Recently, another piece of work by Asst. Prof. Boonserm, The Wine Ayutthaya has won The Plan Award 2017 from Italy. This work points out an integration between the environmental context of local communities in Ayutthaya and the architectural creativity.
We then invited Asst. Prof. Boonserm to discuss with us about his latest project which uses bricks as a prime symbol of an ordinary element that can become a great architecture and a reminder of the local communities.
How do you feel after receiving such World-class awards?
I must remind you again that Thailand is not like Switzerland. It takes much greater efforts to put into work than those of a developed country like in Europe. I, therefore, wish to take these prizes as an encouragement for all architects who have faith and believe in their creations. These prizes are also a reminder that we need to keep improving.
How can architecture bring a town back to life?
Architecture is a part of the place. I always attend to the location, specifically under developed places because I want my architecture to be a tourist attraction to stimulate local areas.
Will you continue to work for the local communities in the next projects?
I am currently working on World of Elephants project in Surin province. The aim is to build shelter for elephants raised by Kui people. The building that I designed is inspired from the uniqueness of Kui people’s house where there is no door. It will have a museum, a showcase, a view point and a boutique.
Another project is Sala in Ban Chang district of Rayong province. There, I use ashes from Map Ta Phut power plant to rebuild in an abandoned area and turn it into a land for agriculture. The project plans to begin its construction by the end of this year.
For me, building an architecture for the community is like creating the work opportunity for the people who have been forgotten. By giving them the opportunity to work, local people are able to extend their knowledge in order to create something new and have new visions. This is a tangible proof that architecture is something that is not merely made for the rich but can also improve the living conditions of the community.
Tell us about your past projects
I give priority to conserving the environment, especially mangrove forests. I have designed a learning center for conserving mangrove forests in Samutprakarn province which at the same time functions as a recreational space for old people and patients from the nearby hospitals.