Purple Elephant International School | Bangkok, Thailand | Landscape Tectonix Limited

In recent years there has been an increased focus on what happens in the schoolyard between the classes and outdoor learning activities as well as the interaction between kids and nature. Purple Elephant was designed to encourage “Learning process by outdoor play within nature”.  

Purple Elephant is an International School for early year students (18 months to 3 years) located in the heart of Bangkok’s CBD. Their philosophy is to dedicate a child-centred environment respecting the diversity of children and the uniqueness of each one. Therefore, the school commits to providing an aesthetically beautiful environment that evokes exploration, creativity, and knowledge.

The project took place when the school had an extension plan to a private mid-century house. This charming house had full of greenery with many existing mature trees. Even though its location was surrounded by high rise buildings in the prime location in Thonglor.  

The landscape architect decided to set up the design visions.

  1. To maximize the virgin green area on ground by having all functional spaces to be elevated.
  2. To implement the removable and degradable materials.
  3. To comply with the ministry of Education “Safety code for school”
  4. To serve all school’s requirements and uses
  5. To create the urban ecology and microclimate.

The master plan started with the site survey to collect the relevant data of existing trees and to analyse the existing site’s microecology. We found the important information; later became one of the design’s criteria that all existing trees were mature and home to local living creatures.

The planning work carefully took the existing trees as a primary element allowing most of the functions to be elevated. The up and down walkway meandered around the garden with 1:10 slope basically provided the accessibility to all specific functions creating the sense of exploration along the way for kids. Different levels of the elevated trail led the kids to different discoveries of the natural setting and habitats. The garden became an “urban forest” as a home for creatures; butterflies, insects, squirrels, birds, etc. Materials were either removable by metal steel or degradable by timber and bamboo.

The entire space invites everyone not only kids but also teachers and parents to come out and sit, walk, run, duck, or climb that makes for fun, movement and motor skills. A variety of spaces is for different needs of users. More activities are related to the loop as well: outdoor pocket classrooms, which can also be used for group work. Whereas a small curve seat can be used for individuals.

All visual elements started from the doorstep are unlikely traditional school entrance but approach with dominant form and material outstanding from surrounding that attract people to this place. Moreover, when in the site, the harmony of nature and man-made objects are perfectly placed. All hardscape and softscape are integrated and will be part of each other.

Purple Elephant International School | Bangkok, Thailand | Landscape Tectonix Limited

Project Name: Purple elephant international school

Location: Bangkok, Thailand

Landscape Architect: Landscape Tectonix Limited

Client: The Early Learning Centre Family of Schools, Bangkok

Completed year: 2016

Photographer: Ⓒ SkyGround architectural film & photography

About Damian Holmes 3266 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/damianholmes/