top of page
  • Writer's pictureScarlett Lee

How Klong Toey Community Lantern has changed in 8 years?

Updated: Jul 17, 2020

As I mentioned at the previous article, one of the major reasons why I visited Khlong Toei was to see Klong Toey Community Lantern. Thanks to the guidance of Monwarin, we soon arrived at the site not getting lost at “the maze” of Klong Toei. When we departed from Duang Prateep Foundation, one of local people said that the building was already destroyed because it was made of wood and it was built around 10 years ago. I was very disappointed to hear that, but I told to Monwarin that I still wanted to visit the site to see how it had been changed.

When we arrived at the site, I was pretty surprised. There were lots of vegetation! The door of the site was locked, but Monwarin asked for our entrance to the manager of the site, so luckily, we entered inside.

Klong Toey Community Lantern (Left: 2011, right: 2019)

The site was full of green vegetation. Apparently, it was used as a community garden! I was wondering how the site has transformed.

Monwarin translated my questions into Thai and asked to the manager, and answered to me. (I really appreciate her great support!) According to her translation, Klong Toey Community Lantern was destroyed soon after the completion. It was not a surprise that the wood building did not last long enough considering the fact that rain falls a lot in Thailand. After the building was ruined, the site was neglected and filled with rubbish.

The manager of the community garden is checking plants

The community garden of Khlong Toei

The community garden of Khlong Toei

Plants growing in the community garden of Khlong Toei

The managers said that they were delegated to manage the community garden on behalf of local people. Because houses in Khlong Toei closely attached each other in a limited space, even small courtyards or gardens did not exist. Therefore, the neglected site was transformed into a community garden to grow vegetables and share them with local people. How great! I have also seen lots of community gardens in New York City, and they were managed by local people independently. The idea of Khlong Toei community garden was same with New York’s ones.

A community garden in New York City

When it comes to wooden houses in Thailand, Jim Thompson’s house museum is a famous one. The guide of the museum said that lacquer is regularly applied to keep the wood building from the damage of rainwater, and it requires more maintenance and care during the monsoon season. Jim Thompson’s house was built in 1959 mainly with wood but still maintains a good condition thanks to the support of the Foundation and the entrance fee charged to tourists. I wonder how low-income people would live in wooden houses. Because they cannot afford lacquer or a maintenance fee, their houses may have miserable conditions.

Jim Thompson House Museum was also built with wood

After visiting the site, I have thought about two significant issues.

1. Maintenance of buildings is important as much as completing projects.

The project Klong Toey Community Lantern was pretty successful when it comes to the involvement of local people in design and construction process, however, the maintenance of the building was not really good. The wood building was rotten in a few years, and then neglected. I think that it is crucial to give local people the responsibility to cherish and maintain a building after the completion of the project. In this respect, the workshop for local people could be held in both before and after the construction. (Before the construction: design workshop or construction technique workshop, after the workshop: maintenance and care workshop.)

Klong Toey Community Lantern (Left: 2011, right: 2019)

2. The use of durable architectural materials is vital.

Architectural materials are an essential factor to decide the life span of a building. Including Klong Toey Community Lantern, humanitarian architecture projects of TYIN Architects in Thailand were mainly built with wood. Because Klong Toey is the youngest one in Thailand, it is not difficult to imagine how older projects have been changed now. TYIN Architects didn’t mention why they chose wood as their major architectural materials in the projects, but I assume it was because wood is affordable. However, clearly, wood is not durable in the tropical climate. Furthermore, in the long run, it is a very expensive and time-consuming material because of consistent maintenance. This issue also led me to carefully consider how to design water-resistant earthen buildings in a tropical climate.

I have found that many people are interested in visiting Klong Toey Community Lantern like me but struggling to find the site. Yes. It was also challenging for me to find a location of the site because even the official site of TYIN Architects doesn’t provide the information. I am providing the Google map of the location below for people who want to visit the site.

Click the map below to see the Google map of Klong Toey Community Lantern.

110 views0 comments
bottom of page