Lonely Planet Writer

A sports hall built entirely from bamboo in Thailand is drawing visitors from around the world

Commissioned by Panyaden International School in Thailand to design them a sports hall, Chiangmai Life Architects (CLA) opted to use a local and abundant natural material; bamboo. The result is an impressive fete of engineering that’s expected to last at least 50 years.

The interior of the spots hall shows of its amazing bamboo structure. Image by Panyaden International School/Chiangmai Life Architects

According to CLA, a firm who specialize in bamboo and earth architecture,“the brief was to build a hall that should be big enough to hold the projected capacity of 300 students, but still smoothly integrate with the previous earthen and bamboo buildings of the school, as well as the natural hilly landscape of the area. It should provide modern sports facilities and use only bamboo to maintain the low carbon footprint and the Green School mission of Panyaden.”

The bamboo sports centre is expected to last for 50 years. Image by Panyaden International School/Chiangmai Life Architects

Incredibly, due to the way the bamboo is woven, supportive reinforcements weren’t necessary. “The sports hall utilizes prefabricated bamboo trusses to span more than 17 meters without steel reinforcements or connections. It combines modern organic design, 21st century engineering and a natural material. The bamboo was all well selected for age, and treated with borax salt. No toxic chemicals were involved in the treatment process.”

Pupils take part in activities in the school sports hall. Image by Panyaden International School/Chiangmai Life Architects

As well as that, the hall’s layout is in keeping with the Buddhist ethos of the school: “the design was based on the lotus flower, as Panyaden International School is in Thailand and uses Buddhist teachings to infuse values into its academic curriculum, and teach the underlying mechanisms of the human mind.”

Panyaden International School has commissioned the amazing new sports hall. Image by Panyaden International School/Chiangmai Life Architects

“The design and material enable a cool and pleasant climate all year round through natural ventilation and insulation. At the same time, the exposed bamboo structure is a feast to the eye and an exhibition of masterly handicraft. The hall was designed with the help of two independent engineers to modern safety standards of loads, and to withstand the local high-speed winds, earthquakes and all other natural forces.”