This is Gyaw Gyaw

Gyaw Gyaw is Karen language, and means slowly, step by step. If we attach the word forward, this reflects our philosophy about a gentle and sustainable improve­ment of knowledge, with focus on architecture and functionality. Since 2009 we have been building social buildings for and together with the local migrant community along the Thai/Burma border.

For us, sustainability is a matter of course. We try to implement processes and results that are sustainable in terms of ecology, economy and culture.

We strive to use materials and use solutions that do not harm the environment. By using local renewable building materials, we minimize transport emissions. We try to reduce the use of concrete, using local substitutes where it is possible. For us, this is sustainability in terms of ecology.

By using low-tech means of production, and people instead of ma­chines, we provide much needed jobs to the local community. Our buldings are easy to maintain, and since almost all materials are local and inexpensive, the future users can easily replace parts and maintain the building at a low cost. Minimizing long-term running costs of a building is vital for a long-term success. For us this is economical sustainability.

From an architectural point of view, it is important that the projects are well-ad­justed to the landscape, and that it is built in accordance with local traditions. This ensures cultural acceptance within the community. By using for example a local technique of plaited bamboo for walls, doors and windows,  we lift up, promote and encourage local traditions and heritage. Development is sometimes mistaken for change. We do not want to change the way people live, nor the way people use the social spaces. With long-term commitment of our organization within the commu­nity has taught us how people live their lives, and our projects are adapted to this way of living, and not the other way around. Our projects are adapted to the local way of life, to preserve and maintain cultural peculiarities. For us this is cultural sustainability.

The use of local labor on the building site ensures a feeling of ownership of the project, and the involvement of the users in the planning and design process, seek­ing consensus solutions, affirms empowerment of the local communities. We see this as small-scale democracy in practice. To promote and encourage transfer of knowledge, inclusion and participation in the whole process is not only inevitable to secure understanding and long-term success, but it is also a goal in itself.

We want to make good exam­ples worth following for locals as well as other NGOs. This also includes focus on functionality and implementation of new techniques that often results in less use of materials, and buildings that better answers the needs of the users.

By building schools and houses that benefit the local population, children and youth in particular, we seek to bring small steps of development to the local sphere. Contributing to people’s own development is our goal.

In Gyaw Gyaw different religious views are represented,  the team members have different backgrounds, and there is a wide variation in knowledge and skills. We have a mutual respect for our differences, and our differences are our main strength. We all have a shared pride in what this team represents and what we have achieved.

Board of directors

Gyaw Gyaw’s activities are based among Karen refugees and migrants on the border between Thailand and Burma.

Since the founder and the main sponsors are Norwegian, Gyaw Gyaw is registered as a volunteer organization in Norway (UID 994201743).

Day to day procedure, realizing and implementing the plans in the fields, are done locally in the migrant communities on the border. The Norwegian board has a supportive and strategic function for the overall plans, making sure Gyaw Gyaw is ran in accordance with stated guidelines and available budget. The members are all trained board members and inspiring and indicative supporters.

Linn Beathe is an economist with years of experience as an auditor from Deloitte, experience from humanitarian work as a volunteer coordinator in Red Cross, she founded Impact Hub Bergen, and is now in charge of social responsibilities for one of Norways leading football clubs, Brann.

She has followed our work and progress since the start and been a great support along the way. Linn Beathe has also visited the team in Noh Bo several times.

Christine is both a trained librarian and a landscape architect and have through her career successfully alternated between the two professions. Starting out in The National Library of Norway, she moved on to architecture and planning. After more then 10 years in a variety of companies, ranging from bigger consultancies to smaller landscape architect and planning offices, she is now back as the chief librarian in Nes Kommune.

Christine has followed our work and progress since the start and been a great support along the way.

Laufen Manifesto

Too many people worldwide subsist in undeserving living conditions, and their ranks are growing by the day. As representatives of the professions collectively shaping the built environment, it is our responsibility to resist this intolerable situation. We are speaking out to define an alternative position. We must produce spaces that counter exploitation, control and alienation, whether in urban or rural landscapes. With all our expertise, creativity and power, we need to contribute more dynamically and consequentially to the global quest for equality.

Gyaw Gyaw`s Line Ramstad is proud co-writer of Laufen Manifesto for a Humane Design Culture.

Meet the Gyaw Gyaw team

Line Ramstad/Nee Ga Mwee.
Architect, lead designer, project manager, construction worker. Founder.

Personal and social responsibilities, administration on building site, carpenter, construction worker. Founder.

Pah Me.
Expert in smoothening and magic eye for details, carpenter, construction. Founder.

See Da Pah.
Head of building site, carpenter and expert in traditional techniques, construction worker.

Paw Eh Wah.
General manager with responsibility for daily economics, general administration and translations.

Ste Pha.
Carpenter, construction worker with careful attention to details.

Well developed eye for carpentry and superb handy skills.

Kee Kee Pah.
Skilful carpenter, overview of the total project, special eye for details.

Saw Dee.
Organizer, driver, translator.


Previous members

Main carpenter, technical leader, designer, construction worker. Founder. Peter is now using his skills working on a building site outside of Bangkok where he has gotten quite some responsibility.

Ole Gunnar Michelsen.
Administration, main economics, sponsor, feedbacks and media responsibility. Ole is now working full time with the footballorganisation PlayOnside