PANNAR: Sustainable and Inclusive Growth Model

Vin Varavarn Architects

Architects: Vin Varavan Architects
Location: Nai Mueang, Thailand
Area: 1,000.00 m2
Year: 2021
Photography: Ketsiree Wongwan

Over the past decades, the world has encountered mounting challenges resulting from unprecedented rapid rates of technological advancements, increasing social and economic disparities, dangers from natural disasters, conflicting values and cultures, and more recently, life-threatening pandemics.

Amidst such national and global crises, “Sufficiency Economic Philosophy”, elaborated by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1974, has gained recognition as a beacon of hope guiding the nation towards an Inclusive and Sustainable Growth Model. The philosophy is based on the conviction that sufficiency thinking will strengthen human capabilities with wisdom, morality and immunities to cope with the unforeseeable changes and threats.

The PANNAR Sufficiency Economic and Agriculture Learning Center project was established with the aim of inspiring and disseminating the King’s Sufficiency Economic Philosophy to the Thai people. The project is located in Nakhon-Ratchasima on a 14-acre plot of land which had been transformed through the new agriculture model from an arid and rocky deserted area to rice fields, reservoirs, vegetable gardens, groves of fruit and general usage trees, and areas for animal farming.

The main building in the project, the Activity Center, is a two-story building designed to accommodate up to 100 people in a variety of functions. The first floor provides areas for a lobby (reception), rooms for seminars and workshops, a large canteen, and a kitchen. The second floor contains offices and meeting spaces for staff, a control room, and facilities for invited trainers and resource staff.

In designing the buildings for the project, the architects were challenged to explore the essence of the Sufficiency Economic Philosophy as related to architecture, especially whether the buildings should conform to traditional concepts of rural dwellings like bamboo huts or temporary shacks. After discussions with various stakeholders, the architects were able to demonstrate that local craftsmanship and local materials can be used and transformed to create modern designs which are attractive, well-suited to present-day ways of life and durable, as well as achieving harmony with the environment.

The activity center is placed as the landmark among the vast agriculture fields. It is designed as a large and open pavilion to facilitate flexible functions while ensuring natural light and ventilation. The expansive and prominent roof, made from locally grown bamboo, helps to collect and drain rainwater towards small canals surrounding the building and in turn, redirect the water to feed other areas of the land before reaching the natural reservoirs for use during the dry season. The natural color earthen walls, resulting from an experiment with local craftsmen’s skills and local soil further enhance the sufficiency thinking and mindset by adapting locally available materials and capabilities for modern usage.

The activity center reflects the belief that architecture is a living science that must transform and grow with the new development of technology in response to evolving human needs and behaviors.