Apichai KaptongĀ , Architect
Director of Design and Construction (CODI)

Community architects wear many hats. They must play multiple roles at the same time, even though most architects tend to be good at different things. Our experience in the field has shown that there are at least 5 roles that an architect is more or less involved in.

1. The Designer

The designer, in our case, must be very flexible. Our projects are always subjected to changes. At first, we usually have a cutting-edge design that everyone agrees with. But, when we start building it we may find that it needs to be modified. As time changes, many other factors – such as material cost, man power, or the community itself – will also change. The community architect must be very dynamic and constantly listen to feedbacks from the community.

2. The Coordinator

Community architects are professional networking people. They must create networks between the community and outside institutions. They must network with people in the university, state bureau, private sectors, and civil groups. They must take care not to turn into “leaders” themselves. They must understand the needs of the community and be able to translate those needs into concrete plans. They should see architecture as a means to get the community to participate and organized.

3. The Trainer

We’ve trained people – in every province and throughout the nation – to be their own builders. We started by teaching people how to read plans, how to select materials, how to do cost estimation, construction management, time, and budget management. We must create a desire for the community to be in charge; to create their own teams, networks of guilds, and builders.

4. The Planner

When we start to expand the work into the scale of a town, the architect would need to play the role of the planner as well. This includes both physical and social planning. The architects must collect information from the community, synthesize them, start planning, and do evaluation.

5. The Agitator

The community architects should try to build informal relations and friendship among their working colleagues – including people in the community. They should create spaces for people from all walks of life to participate. Informal activities such as local dances, plays, or musical event help build trust and friendships.