The best of bamboo

Thailand-based organic-focused architect practice, Chiangmai Life Architects, provides earth and bamboo architecture construction and design for offices, resorts, homes or public landmark features. Here, FC&A explores its latest project for a sports hall at an international school in Thailand.



hiangmai Life Architect’s Bamboo Sports Hall for Panyaden International School combines modern, organic design, 21st-century engineering and a natural material – bamboo.

The design was based on the lotus flower as Panyaden International School is in Thailand and uses Buddhist education to infuse values into its academic curriculum and teach the underlying mechanisms of the human mind.

An exacting brief

The brief was to build a hall that would be large 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 needed to provide modern sports facilities and use only bamboo in its construction to maintain the low carbon footprint and the ‘green school’ mission of Panyaden.

The hall covers an area of 782m² and hosts futsal, basketball, volleyball and badminton courts, as well as a stage that can be lifted automatically. The backdrop of the stage is the front wall of a storage room for sports and drama equipment. On both long sides, balconies provide space for parents and other visitors to observe sporting events or shows.

Pushing the boundaries

Both the design and materials 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, shear forces etc to withstand the local high-speed winds, earthquakes and all other natural forces.

Fact file

Lead Architects:

Markus Roselieb, Tosapon Sittiwong


Phuong Nguyen, Esteban Morales Montoya


Panyaden International School


USD 300,000

Carbon footprint:


Chiangmai Life Construction:

Borax/boric acid-treated bamboo

Yang Ma Sports Tech Co:

ZEPDM/SBR indoor sports floor PSC Commercial Co, Cree Multipurpose LED lights.

The innovative structural design is based on newly-developed prefabricated bamboo trusses which span of over 17m without steel reinforcements or connections. These trusses were prebuilt on site and lifted into position with the help of a crane.

Reducing the carbon footprint

The Panyaden Sports Hall’s carbon footprint is zero; the bamboo used absorbed carbon to a much higher extent than the carbon emitted during treatment, transport and construction.

The bamboo was all well selected for its age and treated with borax salt – no toxic chemicals were involved in the treatment process. The life-span of the bamboo hall is expected to be at least 50 years.

Building with bamboo

The practice, which specialises in modern bamboo assembly and earth architecture whilst considering quality construction, focuses its attention on large bamboo structures such as bamboo trusses for halls, eco-resorts, villas, houses, schools as well as office and factory spaces.

Chiangmai Life Architects favours organic, free-flowing designs and believes in the superior functionality of organic materials. At the same time, sustainable designs and lifestyle are important hallmarks of the firm’s projects and, as a result, it treats all bamboo used in its buildings with natural borax salts.

The philosophy is to increase the quality of life by using natural materials combined with modern, light and clean architecture. Specialising in adobe, wattle and daub and rammed earth walls, rammed earth floors, bamboo roofs, bamboo structures, bamboo pavilions, the firm has transformed the perception of these materials having a stigma of being “poor people’s materials” or outdated, “dirty” materials.

Go natural

The practice uses natural materials because they provide great thermal and noise insulation and they last longer. At the same time, the firm embraces any useful progress and knowledge that mankind has produced over the years. Concrete is the best foundation material, modern tools are a joy to work with, but the main factors for outstanding work are still a creative human mind and skilled hands. Modern technology can effortlessly be integrated with bamboo and earth architecture.

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