Boonserm PREMTHADA RECEIVES THE DESIGN PRIZE
Boonserm Premthada, who leads Bangkok Project Studio, receives the golden Madonnina statue of Milan’s THE DESIGN PRIZE 2021|22 in the category ‘Social Impact’. designboom curates the city’s annual award program since 2017, and this year, at our DAAily Bar during Milan Design Week 2022, THE DESIGN PRIZE announced the renowned Thai architect as one of its recipients.
Boonserm Premthada opens the talk with a thoughtful presentation, taking us through the making of the studio’s recent works. During the ceremony, designboom, in collaboration with the Comune di Milano’s Annibale D’Elia, director of Urban Economics, Fashion, and Design, awarded Premthada with this very special prize, applauding his dedication to empowering the local community. As part of his practice, the architect involves unskilled locals, who evolve into sapient artisans and vigorously participate in his projects.
Throughout his talk, Premthada highlighted his creative process: ‘My architecture performs three functions: It preserves the culture, revives the forest, and builds a self-sustaining community.’ He also talked about a future that not only centers around humanity, but where human beings coexist harmoniously with nature and animals, fostering respect and humbleness. At the end of the presentation, he underlined his motto, ‘Local is future’, closing his storytelling with the hope of giving new perspectives and know-how that will inspire people all over the world.
Artisans Ayutthaya: the Woman Restaurant
all images © Boonserm Premthada
architecture x elephants by Boonserm Premthada
In his practice, THE DESIGN PRIZE 2022 social impact winner is known for prioritizing the use of low-cost, sustainable materials and low-tech construction methods. Through his projects, the audience is invited to review the roles between human and environment, natural and artificial, achieving a balanced living founded on complementarity and conformity.
His studio has completed a number of projects across its home country, including ‘Elephant Museum’, a building complex made of clay bricks that hopes to educate visitors about the close connection the animal has with the people of northeast Thailand. ‘Humans live under the same roof as elephants which are regarded as children rather than pets,’ said the architect. ‘This heritage of tradition, culture, and wisdom has been passed on for generations in a rural village with the largest number of domesticated elephants in Thailand.’
‘Elephant Theater’ is another project that proves how animal waste can be upcycled into construction material, maximizing the benefits of the natural resource and revealing new potential in the architecture and art realm. For this project, the design team created the brick prototypes in partnership with ‘Mahouts’, elephant trainers or keepers, and local workers. Following the proper procedure, the handcrafted elephant dung bricks are ready to contribute to the architecture world. When their life span ends, they naturally decompose into the soil.
when architecture meets women’s empowerment
Boonserm Premthada’s interest in supporting local communities is also evident in his community-focused ‘Artisans Ayutthaya: the Woman Restaurant’. The structure took shape in a village outside the ancient city of Ayutthaya, where most of the residents are unmarried or widowed women aged between 55 and 94. Their daily activity is to prepare food for sale in an attempt to fund the repair of a nearby temple. To complete this restaurant, the architect employed overlooked and repurposed materials. This restaurant promotes sustainable architecture, community values, and local traditions; It is proof of the women’s determination to preserve the cuisine and craft of Ayutthaya.
The characterful construction approach, combined with a design that seeks to empower the local community, demonstrates exactly why Bangkok Project Studio is the deserved recipient of THE DESIGN PRIZE for SOCIAL IMPACT.
example of industrial craftsmanship where glass block construction is completed without mortar