Thailand’s “Garbage” Library

June 2, 2009 at 7:03 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

60px-GFDL_Krating_Daeng_150mlAn eco-friendly library in Bangkok was created last month with scavenged “garbage” including bottles left behind after parties, boxes left behind after a fair, scrap teakwood left behind at a building site, and much more — and it’s been built in an abandoned space. In what used to be a “shophouse” — that deep narrow retail/residential structure ubiquitous in Southeast Asia — the ceiling chandelier is made from soda-pop bottles; those old boxes have been transformed into bookshelves, and those naturally beautiful teak planks hide dirty concrete walls. A broken toilet has been converted into a planter. It’s the work of Community Architects for Shelter and Environment (CASE) group, a team of Bangkok-based architects devoted to improving life for the urban poor.

CASE’s founder Patama Roonrakwit — who became interested in what she calls “slum dwellers” while studying at Oxford — told reporters at the Thai paper The Nation: “Financial limitations inspired us to make full use of recycled items.”

Last year, drawing upon the Buddhist kathin tradition — in which donating goods improves karma — Roonrakwit set up sites where people could donate used construction equipment as well as books, paper, plants, toys, housewares and pet supplies.
Many of those donations went into this community library. Total renovations took only three weeks.

The abandoned shophouse was a remnant of the formerly thriving Chinese retail community that has since moved away.

Solar-cell lamps illuminate the space, which also has a garden. Local workers and children gather to read donated books and magazines and play with donated games. Donated paintings — and artworks created by local kids — adorn the walls. The upstairs mezzanine has been outfitted with pads for lounging and meditation.

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  1. interview with Patama

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