The Students Speak,(The Ashram of Community & Environmental Architects)

Traditionally, the architect is an elite profession with strong ties to the ruling class. No people in their right mind would spend long years of training so that they could be at the service of the poor. But we’re doing just that!” – Kittikun Supragarn

“When I just graduated from college, I worked in a typical corporate firm. At that time, I don’t really feel that my role – as an architect – is that satisfying. It’s just like a day job, you know. Life passes by as you move between your home and office. Then I went to the countryside with a few friends and suddenly I realized that there’s more to life than just designing good architecture. You feel more at peace with oneself when you’re helping others – I think it’s a part of human nature.” – Jiraporn Jivanuwong

Back when I was still a 3rd year undergraduate student, things were quite boring. Then after I’d volunteered for the Tsunami relief in 2004, I felt very happy. We were actually doing things for the people; having real effects on their lives. Again, here at the Ashram, I feel that we’re learning things from actual situation too. We’re always solving problems together; learning things from the community…that’s the beauty of it” – Witchuda Khumsorn

“We should think in general terms of how to better the lives of people in the community. We could do this in many ways, not just through architecture.” – Yingyong Poonnopatham

All professions should have the collective goal of unleashing the hidden potential of the people they serve.” – Rattanin Supurtipanish

“We must train our eyes to see beyond the physical aspects of a place. Having eyes which see how people live, how the river runs, and how the community evolves is very important. We must ask why there’s a dock here near the river at one point in time. Or what’s the social fabric of the community across the river, for instance. We – as community architects – must see the dynamic background of an apparently static picture. ” -Praewponn Sukutsathian

” Problem = (Expectation – Performance) x Concern ” – Yingyong Poonnopatham quoting Professor Yongyuth Chanyaraksa (Botanist) 

“Problem”, in this case, is the negation of happiness. Having little expectation and high performance, for instance, would yield a ‘negative problem’ (happiness).

Also, to have happiness, you must work on the things that you’re “concern” about. The higher the “concern”, the higher the satisfaction (or unsatisfaction). You must have passion.

“When we go work in the community, there seems to be this discourse on whether you’re “with the state” or “with the people”. I think that such dualism is counterproductive. As architects, what we need to do is to work with all possible parties; to find the solutions to our problems. We are pragmatists.” – Yingyong Poonnopatham

“Some building codes are still too standardized – like requiring super-wide streets so that fire trucks could negotiate the lanes. In some communities, this is unnecessary. If the main goal is to put out the fire, there are many other alternatives.” – Churit Kangwanpoom

“I believe that in an ideal case, building codes should be written by the community for which they are intended to be used in. The codes should be tailored specifically for the needs of each community or region.” -Chalermlarp Dungsrikaew

Meditation was introduced to us during first week orientation here at the Ashram. We went to study Buddhist meditation with Khunmae Amara for 2 days in the province of Ayuthaya. We were there so that we could learn to know ourselves.” -Witchuda Khumsorn

“I’m particularly bad at meditation. The goal of meditation is to have Samati(awareness + concentration). In reality, I don’t think Samati can only be attained through the method of meditatation. We can have Samati while talking and listening; we can have it while playing sport. We should not become attach to the method of meditation. Samati exists at all times. It enables you to see the truth; whether it’s beautiful or not-so-beautiful, you’d learn to accept it. Without Samati you cannot see things clearly and make the required changes” – Chalermlarp Dungsrikaew

“When I went with the Ashram on a camping trip to the rainforest, I felt that – as a human – I’m a very small part of the world. But at the same time, it has instilled the feeling that I’m indeed a part of this planet. After that experience, it seems that everything I do is in relation to other things. Everything has a function in this planet.” – Pasita Srisanga