Lifestyle

Beyond Bamboo


Architect Thanapat Boonsanan takes the humble bamboo to new heights

Bamboo is food.

Bamboo is life.

Bamboo is precious.

Bamboo is culture.

Bamboo is energy. 

Bamboo is opportunity.

Bamboo is now.

 

Thanapat Boonsanan has a fascination with bamboo stems, a Thai traditional wisdom from its versatility and is environmentally friendly. The founder of bamboo-centric architecture and construction firm Thor Kaichon and a Silapakorn graduate, he found little on bamboo construction on Google, he had to basically write the manual himself. “Every piece I work on comes from different inspirations; none of them are the same. It all depends on what I’m into at that moment, what I would like to communicate to the audience, it changes all the time,” Thanapat explained. He’s always exploring new techniques and designs with bamboo and continuously discovering. He believes there is no correct or wrong way in design, it’s free flow. 

Thanapat shared, “Bamboo has a strong character to it, but what I recently found out a few months ago is that I love the color yellow. When I look at bamboo, I feel happy because it's yellow and that’s another reason why I love bamboo even more. That extends to graphics, design and fashion, the color yellow is cheerful.” 

His fascination for bamboo all started during the flood in 2004 when his friend sent him a link to join a workshop about bamboo stems from Chiang Mai. As Bangkok was flooding, he decided to give it a try and from that point onwards, he never stopped loving bamboo. “Bamboo made me confident in being a skillful architect and from then on, my passion was born.” 

He never stops learning about the special qualities of bamboo, studying different kinds of bamboo suitable for construction. “I discover new things every single day, navigating with bamboo stems, when or how it breaks, these things are learned with experience and you certainly can’t find them in books.” 

Not only is bamboo strong and durable but it is friendly to our environment.  The growth rate is about five times faster than normal trees; this makes it highly sustainable and a great alternative. “The cultivation is natural, it doesn't harm the environment and chemicals are not required when harvesting bamboo. Bamboo can basically be harvested in every district of Thailand,” Thanapat explained. 

 

Thanapat measures his success on the feedback he receives from clients, whether it's within the online world or the architectural society. “The most feedback I have received on a project would be the Chata Thammachart, a café huddled at Rai Khing, Nakorn Pathom. The concept of the cafe is ‘To be with nature, naturally’. For this reason, I wanted to reflect this project as authentic Thai bamboo architecture, a traditional Thai style but portrayed through my eyes, that harmoniously blends with nature. I want people to set foot here and straight away feel a contemporary Thai vibe,” Thanapat revealed. 

“Another project I was so passionate about was also a cafe in Bangkok, Natura Café,” Thanapat laughed. Cafés we often see are mostly European or minimalist in style, but this one is a café alongside a garden of Thai veggies and greens like chili, krapao, bai toey and so on. “I’m inspired by Thai farmers and the local life, as my father is a farmer. I feel it’s a unique part of Thailand which made me feel truly inspired in designing a simple layout, super minimal but a frame for nature that displays true Thai authenticity. People visit the café wearing Thai traditional costumes and snap photos with the bamboo design. This really touches me, it’s certainly something meaningful for Bangkok.”

Thanapat believes bamboo is original and it’s Thai.  One important aspect for architectural design for the future is to use anything that we already have at hand, to use our own supply as much as possible in order to create sustainability. “We shouldn’t run after things far away from us. We should be Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket, our true and original selves. I would like to embrace Thai traditional wisdom as much as possible, to elevate Thai bamboo architecture to be accepted on an international level and find ways to reduce construction waste.”