kikuma watanabe translates kid's drawing into floating school
kikuma watanabe translates kid's drawing into floating school kikuma watanabe translates kid's drawing into floating school
jan 23, 2014

kikuma watanabe translates kid's drawing into floating school

kikuma watanabe realizes kid’s drawing in thai rainbow school
all images courtesy of kikuma watanabe





the ‘rainbow ark soaring in the sky’ school by japanese architect kikuma watanabe of D environmental design system laboratory aims to help alleviate poverty in sangkhlaburi village, thailand. located near the border of myanmar, there are a lot of immigrants and orphans in the area, with people being unable to raise their children themselves. wanting to provide a good future for these kids, they were asked by their teacher to envision the school of their dreams. one of them drew a flying ship, which was then translated into the design. the image was adapted into two main architectural components: the round, ‘earth bag’ volumes on the ground floor and the other, a light steel structure finished with bamboo and a grass roof.



‘the earthbag domes are thought of as a ‘launching pad’ that supplies the ship with the energy of mother earth and the upper steel building as the ship that is soaring in the sky.’ says architect, kikuma watanabe.


the school was conceived as an ark that ‘soars in the sky’ after a drawing by one of the children



the round volumes create a warm interior, fostering a sense of comfort for the children in the prayer dome and classroom of earth. the floating level above functions as a buddhist room and learning area. a gentle breeze flows through the thatched roof, giving the feeling of being in a ship. since its completion, the school has become a successful place for the community to enjoy studying, playing, and praying everyday. the interpretation of their dreams into an architectural form establishes a foundation to help lead the children to a bright future.



the domes on the ground floor and the floating space above are used for prayer and classrooms


the open area between the three ‘earth bag’ domes


the prayer dome (left)
round earth classroom (right)


view overlooking the ‘classroom of wind’ to the buddhist room


the upper level classroom has a cool breeze that gently passes through


children praying in the buddhist room


night view of the ‘classroom of wind’


children playing during the construction process


bamboo work by local carpenters


plan of ‘ark soaring in the sky’



project info:


location: shanghlabri, kanchanaburi, thailand
owner: kagayaku inochi(grolious life):japanese npo
year of completion: 2012- 2013
architects: kikuma watanabe +d environmental design system laboratory
structural engineer: D environmental design system laboratory
construction: kikuma watanabe + d environmental design system laboratory, carpenters of garian (minor mountain people), children of rainbow school
site area: 3880.50m2
building area: 125.10m2
total floor area: 104.60m2
structure: earthbag building, steel pipe, bamboo



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

architecture news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
493,007 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample