boonserm premthada creates bricks from elephant dung
Boonserm Premthada’s elephant dung bricks reveal hidden potential in Thai village
boonserm premthada, who runs the bangkok project studio, is the recipient of THE DESIGN AWARD 2021 for a social impact. his latest work, Elephant Manure Bricks, follows the spirit of his award by proving how animal waste can be recycled in a way that promotes cultural and economic values for local communities. the initiative took place in the kiu village of ban ta klang, thailand, an area known for its domesticated elephants.
their waste, then, is’now transformed into an innovative sculpture prototype which is more meaningful with added value. this is the first step in promoting the use of elephant dung […] through research and development. with potentials in art and architecture, this experimental material can be developed into an actual functional structure – proving how natural resources can be recycled in a way […] that maximizes the benefits of the natural resource, ‘ specifies the architect.
all images are courtesy of boonserm premthada
a four-step process: collecting, mixing, molding and drying
premthada created the brick prototypes in collaboration with “mahouts” (elephant riders) and local workers. first, a mahout collects the unwanted dry excrement and brings it to a dedicated workshop where the men mix the waste with cement and water. once ready, the mixture is injected and smoothed into molding trays using wooden sticks. and when the molds harden into bricks, the workers turn the tray over to take them out and collect them at a specific location.
to make sure the mixture stays intact, workers water the bricks for seven days in a row. after that, the pile is left to dry for three weeks before using it as a building material. specifically, the architect will use the elephant manure bricks as part of the elephant theater for the 2022 biennial of landscape and architecture in versailles.
the village of kiu is known for its domesticated elephants
that said, one question remains unanswered: what makes elephant dung such a great architectural resource? According to premthada, elephants consume 200-300 kg of plant-based food per day, which makes their droppings rich in fiber, which contributes to the durability of the bricks. in the future, the architect hopes to expand the potential of his sustainable, inexpensive and socio-economic initiative. in fact, bangkok project studio most often uses handmade bricks to create jobs and generate income for the local population. unskilled workers become knowledgeable craftsmen and actively participate in projects.
close up on elephant manure bricks
once molded and ready, the bricks are stacked and left to dry for three weeks
manually mix manure with water and cement
workers use a wooden stick to even out the mold and remove excess mixture
dry manure is rich in fiber, which helps to make the bricks more durable
premthada is the social impact winner of the 2021 DESIGN AWARD
Last name: elephant dunk bricks
designate: boonserm premthada
site: kiu village of ban ta klang, thailand,
Equipment: dung, water, cement
collaborators: mahouts (elephant riders), local workers
MEET ALL THE WINNERS OF THE GOLDEN MADONNINA AWARD 2021
The winners of the DESIGN AWARD madonnina d’or awards in 10 interdisciplinary categories:
IN THE ARTISTIC KINGDOM | BEST COMMISSIONER | BEST DESIGNER | SOCIAL IMPACT | BEST EXHIBITION | BETTER COMMUNICATION | EXPERIMENTATION | NEW DESIGN | DISTRIBUTION | LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT.
THE DESIGN AWARD is an annual awards program that celebrates excellence globally. initiated in 2017 and organized by designboom, with the sponsorship of the city of milan, THE DESIGN AWARD recognizes both the extraordinary achievements and the little sparks of beauty and pleasure that have emerged over the past 12 months.