The culturally-significant town of Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, is an area of rich history and religion, preserving traces of walls, moats, and temples from a past that dates back to the 13th century. Between its lush trees and scenic landscapes sits architectural design studio Sher Maker’s workshop and office, a locally-sourced space that accentuates the process and meaning behind building construction. Their workspace is no different than their portfolio; having an interest in the origins of architectural formations, the context of local materials and technologies, as well as the atmosphere that surrounds the building both physically and atmospherically, the team translated their design approach to create their own working space.
For Sher Maker, a good project is always made by a practitioner who embodies human qualities. Being a designer with human nature means having the ability to pick up on things that are related to people’s lives, psyches, senses, and empathy, and connect them to humans’ experiences through design. So for the team, the influence of geography and culture is an elemental resource and reason behind the design concept, not just the human aspect. Being open to the natural atmosphere and having a clear perception of each season’s weather conditions was very crucial to Sher Maker’s working environment, as it kept them in contact with the “real world” they were working with.
While designing their workspace, the team was looking for a flat and empty land, one that allowed them to build any structure on and blend naturally with its surroundings. The only suitable plot they found was a flat land covered with acacia and yellow poinciana, so they developed their studio’s design and layout based on these natural elements, letting the natural sounds and temperatures of the seasons, the fragments of the branches, and even the fallen leaves become part of the architectural experience.
The studio’s structure was built from old wooden and steel frames. Some metal sheets were allocated on the roof, and extended towards the ground, floating arbitrarily above the original surface to enhance studio users’ concentration and conceal the interior space from external distractions. Instead of using cladding materials to cover the roof, the team organized the studio’s layout to follow the orientation and overlapping of the trees on site, using them as natural cover for some of the interior spaces.
The space is divided into two separate parts: the interior studio and the exterior workshop, each requiring its own spatial configuration based on its designated function, yet seamlessly blended to facilitate the circulation and interaction between both. The interior is divided into 2 floors, containing 3-4 working units used for material testing and furniture mock-up. The area under the eaves across from the studio is set up as a workshop station for material testing and construction work. The exterior workshop consists of a long multipurpose hall where the team works with hand tools and experiments with different materials. “Fluidity”, “adaptation”, and “transparency” were key elements in the design concept, not only in terms of context, but in terms of functionality and work environment as well. In the same hall space where the team conducts meetings with clients, local builders develop their pieces and experiment with materials, highlighting that the space is welcoming to all and everyone is treated with the same level of respect.
Although the project was a personal one, they dealt with it the same way they would deal with a client’s project. However, for their space, they began with an intensive, almost obsessive, research about different elements that they personally cared about, like workshops and material selection, whereas in a client’s project, they begin with an evaluation of the program and context to begin with the design process. In some cases, both types of research result in overlapping data. In one of their 2019 projects, the team was required to research the area of a local ceramics factory and studio in Chiang Mai to renovate the facade of PTT Station. The project helped them gather a rich database on everything related to ceramic works, which intrigued them to research further about soil’s physical characteristics in their local area. With that, the team began testing color mockups of soil by mixing colors from different sources, which was then sent to pitch firing, resulting in unique bricks with smoke patterns. This experimentation resulted in an ”obsession” with the diversity of soil color, so the team began collecting many earthen elements from around the neighborhood to extract different color pigments for prospective projects
Source : archdaily.com
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