We at est, appreciate good design and the people who create it. That’s a given. However, when a creative uses their talents for good, we can’t help but to get a little starry eyed. The Safe Haven Library is an example of just that. In 2009, TYIN Architects, TYIN architects, a young, cooperative architecture practice based in Norway, invited 15 Norwegian architect students from NTNU to participate in a workshop at the Safe Haven Orphanage in Ban Tha Song Yang, Thailand. The goal: to create a space where the children of the orphanage could learn to read, and have an educational and comfortable place to play.
The workshop was led by associate professor Hans Skotte and architect Sami Rintala. To build the library, the team relied on local materials and labor. Rather than import materials, the group felt it imperative to support the local community. Therefore, the entire budget was used in the nearby markets. The concrete base of the library is supported by bed of rocks and the walls consist of plastered concrete blocks which help keep the building cool during the day. Ironwood was used for both the frame and the construction and serves as a comfortable floor for the children to play on. There’s also a Swiss Family Robinsion treehouse vibe happening here with that second floor, and to be honest, we wouldn’t mind reading a book or two up there ourselves.
The bookshelves utilize the full vertical space of the structure, running from floor to ceiling and across the full length of the building. There’s a cozy little nook with a small computer area on one side and a larger library room on the other. Working in collaboration, the architectural team from TYIN and the NTNU professors completed the Safe Haven Library in a remarkable short two weeks.
TYIN was founded in 2008 by Andreas G. Gjertsen and Yashar Hanstad, and they’ve built in underdeveloped areas of Thailand, Myanmar, Haiti, Uganda and their native Norway. The partners are young, but have already been considered for The European Prize for Architecture. And it is easy to see why. Their work is beautiful, functional, well designed, and serves a phenomenal purpose.
The Safe Haven Library provides the children of the orphanage a comforting place to do homework, use a computer with internet or create an arts and crafts project. The local textiles and varied structural elements provide the warmth, character and coziness a child (or anyone) would need. The world could certainly do with a few more creatives using their talent and skills to make life a little better for those around them. Bravo to TYIN architects, and all the students and professors who worked tirelessly on this project.