SoA+D students joined the volunteer program at The Chang Maesa Chiang Mai by designing and constructing a prototype of shelters for the elephants and their mahouts as protection from weather elements such as sun and rain. The construction of prototypes is replicated throughout the park, establishing a common design language and visual identity in the future.
Designing with regard to suitability and limitations like height is very important that the roof line is set up above the FFL (Finished floor level) of 7 meters to 8 meters so that the extended trunk could not reach the dried grass roofing material. In addition, the poles must be kept strong, with the elephants rubbing against the surface of the poles – in a mud bath after the cleaning ceremony.
The locations were identified by the manager based on specifics and group of requirements for elephants, social interaction, and behavior towards one another. In addition, the selection of sites has been largely influenced by accessibility of heavy equipment into the site. However, all three selected sites presented individual degree of difficulties from the beginning. “Chang Chiang Mai” is an organization that encompasses the idea of ‘No Chain’ and introduction of ‘Free Zone’ for the retired elephants to roam around freely and naturally. It was a great experience for students who are civic-minded to join the activity voluntarily to learn and understand more about the animals, work with local villagers, and apply their knowledge and skills in architectural design.