Mae Tari Dormitory

The project contains of a dormitory for 24 students and 2 teachers, an additional kitchen and toilet/shower building and a water purification system done by our collaborators in Solbakken.


Mae Tari is one of the bigger villages on the border. It´s mainly Karen migrants living here, but the village also holds a Thai school. These schools are primarily reserved for Thai citizens and legal, registered migrants, but in case of extra capacity, none-registered migrants are also allowed in.

At the Burmese side, there are several villages without schools or possibilities for primary education. The Thai school, just a few kilometers away, is mostly not recognized as an option. It’s often a lack of information, a matter of transportation possibilities or optional boarding facilities and shortage of money to cover the costs of it.

Through her position as a teacher and as one of the chair persons in Karen Woman Organization, Tharamu Thamla are traveling the area on both sides of the border river and know the situation better then most. To improve the situation for the numerous children in the area, she has made appointments with the Thai school to accept more children and informed parents about the possibilities. She has also established a boardinghouse and gotten support from a local church to run it. The Thai school is Buddhist, so the religious aspect of this project is not a matter.

Design and construction of the dormitory in 2013 were done in close collaboration with the church in charge and the students parents. It was a positive and rewarding process for all included parties. And we were happy to expand our contribution with a kitchen and traditional bathrooms for the students as well.

The site is steep and narrow, and requires additional attention to landslides, rainwater, and general surface water concerns. This in combination with implementation in rainy season, gave us new and rewarding challenges concerning traditional construction and materials available in the area.

Through a collaboration with the local organization Solbakken we were also pleased to include electricity, water access and clean drinking water to this project.


Built and designed by Gyaw Gyaw 2013/2014 with water purification system by Solbakken

Total 20 weeks/520 318 Baht

Gyaw Gyaw Team: Line Ramstad (project manager/architect) Peter, Phillipa, Pah Me, See Da Pah, Ta Po Kwa, Ee Po Pah, Oo Klo, Ste Pha. Paw Eh Wah, Saw Dee, Ole (adm).

Solbakken: Nick Powers, Htoot Htoot, Em

Parents, neighbours and church members have also contributed as volunteers and day labor. Extra thanks to Tharamu Thamla, the pastor and his family for the hospitality and Ponchai for good support and contribution.

Photo: Franc Pallarès López and Line Ramstad


The site for the dormitory is a narrow flat spot in a steep slope. Supporting walls were the first to be made. It’s a river close by, and with contribution from the oldest children, their families and neighbors, we got enough river stones to build a freestanding support wall in front of the building and a combination support wall/first floor wall in the back.

The timber was in this case delivered in big logs, but with local craftsmen strengthening the team, the logs slowly turned into timber that were used in the construction. The roof is thin steel plates from the local store. They are hot and noisy in rain, but with focus on airflow, the heated roof contributes to speed up the stream through the building.

Since this project was started in rainy season, adobe bricks were not suitable. We have also recently experienced heavy flooding in the area and were curious to explore new materials that could handle prolonged exposure to water.


The main wall materials in this building are bamboo, but we have also used locally produced burned clay bricks for the first floors half wall to keep water and animals outside.

Second floor is divided in two equal parts, with 4 sleeping cells each, fitting a total of 24 children. Based on traditional sleeping/living conditions, we lowered the walkway from the sleeping areas and made transparent bamboo walls between the rooms, connecting them visually 4 and 4, but at the same time making room for a bit of privacy.

Built and designed by Gyaw Gyaw 2013

12 weeks / 278 285 THB                                                                                             

Kitchen and toilet/bath

The kitchen and toilet/bathhouse is placed on a natural plateau next to the dormitory, but with additional forces from the building itself and superfluous digging by parents eager to help, we also put a great effort into support walls, using riverstones and concrete as walls to keep the soil stable.

Kitchen, bath and toilets are placed under the same tinn roof on timber construction. The functions are divided by a levelled concrete slab with an open kitchen on the top level close to the dormitory entrance, a traditional bath in the extension for a reasonable use of pipes and walls and toilets placed below for a secure grey water treatment down the slope.

The walls are burned clay bricks from a local factory, with additional smoothening on the outside facades to protect towards heavy rain.

Built and designed by Gyaw Gyaw 2014  

8 weeks/201 033 THB                                                                                                          


The water purification system by Solbakken is a well tested and easy to maintenance and provides clean drinking water to all the students through sand and charcoal filtration. Solbakken also connected the pipelines and electricity to the existing village net.

Built and designed by Solbakken 2014
2 weeks/41 000 THB + labour Solbakken

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