Reuse, Repair, Upcycle

Reuse, Repair, Upcycle

Reuse, Repair, Upcycle

As a child he liked designs connecting old traditions with environmental awareness. This found expression in this straw-covered cubical building reminiscent of a farmer’s paddy hut.

/// Thailand ///

Story: Nutt /// Photography: Chaiyaphon Sodabanlu

Design: Ronachai  Khanbanya, Mae Khaning Creative Co., Ltd

A single large pane is expensive, so smaller ones are set into a metal frame, economical and also tasteful, reflecting the framework of the building.

Ronachai “Art” Khanbanya, architect from Mae Khaning Creative Co., Ltd, has redesigned a lot of old offices and developed a preference expressed in the slogan “reuse, repair, recycle.”

Reuse” is putting things that are still usable back to work again.

Repair” is fixing broken or abandoned things and making them useful once more.

Upcycle” is designing discarded materials for new use.

“Our old office near the city moat was small and inconvenient. We relocated here for the pleasant atmosphere. Having to rent, we designed a structure we could easily dismantle and reassemble. Budget was important in choosing building materials.”



The structure is tent-like: a frame of 6-meter-long box steel beams supports a high gabled structure. The entrance gable has glass panes set in a metal framework. Outside walls are thatched with cogon grass, effective heat insulation that helps save energy and is also excellent soundproofing. Sheet metal lines the inner walls.

An old door panel transformed into a sliding counter for a multipurpose table: adaptable to work desk, dining table, or for kitchen use.

“Easy-to-use materials like cogon grass are locally available, and give the building a distinctive look. I wanted to show that cheap materials could be not only effective, but also beautiful. We’ve had pretty good success without having to use expensive imports. The new generation of designers should get aware of what’s here already.”

Metal wall, second floor heat insulation, creating intra-wall space for good air circulation. /// Cogon grass roofing, effective use of local materials for good heat insulation and soundproofing.

Furniture and décor here is quite simple, as seen in the particleboard shelving and the use of an old door to create a sliding counter. Art was aiming for a universal space, with furniture adaptable for work, eating, or food preparation.

The tabletop is made from an old unused pane of glass attached to make a new table using shims and pegs.

“I’m thinking a completely new lifestyle, not like old office designs, more an arrangement of work tables in a relaxing environment, like working at home or chilling at a café. We find comfortable work environments work for other sides of life, too.”

A shelf is crafted of simple materials such as unpainted particleboard. /// A stepladder: When not in use, it can be used as shelving.

The garden outside is a comfortable space where you can drink coffee at a table made from a cable spool. Landscaping features fountain grass, which doesn’t require a lot of care and fits in with the “paddy hut” theme. The walkway curves around before shortcutting into the building, evoking the image of paddy dikes. “Everyone wants to live in the country. In Chiangmai these days you see only buildings, not many plants. The plants here make it fun to come to work.”

The outside area in front of the building is used as a living and relaxation space for drinking coffee. A cable spool is used for a table. Landscaping is fountain grass, easy to care for and evoking thoughts of a life in the fields.

This office is comfortable. It has complete functionality, and saves on materials, construction, and energy. Good for the environment, good for the folks working there. “The more you think, the more you save” should be the credo of a good designer. The evidence is here: as Art says, it’s a great place to work.


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