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RICE TOWER

General Information

Project Name: Rice Tower
Architecture Firm: Bangkok Project Studio
Website: http://bangkokprojectstudio.co
               https://www.facebook.com/BangkokProjectStudio
               https://www.instagram.com/boonserm_premthada
Contact e-mail: bangkokprojectstudio@gmail.com
Firm Location: Bangkok, Thailand.

Lead Architects: Boonserm Premthada
Lead Architects e-mail: bangkokprojectstudio@gmail.com

Completion Year: 2021
Size: 4.50x2.40x9.00(H) m
Project location: Nakhon Ratchasima Zoo, Nakhon Ratchasima Province 30000, Thailand
                           https://goo.gl/maps/dYd51DDKMVe4Q8cV8

Media Provider

Photo credits: Spaceshift Studio
Photographer’s website: http://spaceshiftstudio.com
Photographer’s e-mail: spaceshiftstudio@gmail.com

Additional Credits

Clients: Office of Contemporary Art and Culture (OCAC) Ministry of Culture, Thailand
Design Team: Boonserm Premthada, Jaruj Thammasoontorn, Pacharaphol Osotcharoenphon, Pojsapon Chongsakul
Engineer : Preecha Suvaparpkul

Concept of Work

A rice barn is where paddies and other agricultural produce are stored. It looks like a small house separated from the main structure and is commonly found in the northeastern region of Thailand (Isaan) which is the major rice producer of the country, and the most wonderful jasmine rice comes from there. Rice, for the Isaan people, is an economic crop, an asset, and the cradle of folk wisdom passed down from generation to generation, such as the rice harvest tradition. That is why, the rice barn is regarded by the people of Isaan as a shrine that houses precious objects of physical and spiritual values. Nowadays, the rice barn is disappearing or has been transformed into something else which reduces its original meaning.

To help people really see the bounties of the soil and nature of the northeastern region, I reassembled some old wood planks from old and decaying rice barns and transformed them, with a little interpretation, from a single-story rice barn into the tall and majestic Rice Tower easily spotted by visitors from a distance. Nevertheless, I did not forget to preserve its modest nature. I only planed out the wood surface to reveal the real, raw, and unembellished color of the wood planks from 50-years-old rice barns. Apart from humans, another group of users of the Rice Tower is animals that can frequent the Tower as much as they like. The Tower was designed to respect their privacy. Only small animals can enter the Tower. For humans, I made a small peephole just for them to look inside and see birds eating seeds on the ground without being able to disturb them. Basically, those who can go inside the Tower are birds, mosquitoes, and deer while humans are the observers.

This Tower not only preserves and revitalizes the spirit of the rice barn within the decaying materials, but it also nudges people to be aware of all the small delightful things that happen every day that we overlook, like seeing tiny birds eating grains, watching deer run around, stopping to listen to the sound of the wind through the small opening of the Tower. If we stop talking, and listen with our ears and see with our eyes the small things that are happening around us, we will find happiness of being in the moment without having to worry about the future. That is the hidden meaning of the Rice Tower.

Rice Tower

The interpretation of the artist is what defines art. Art functions as a mirror to the society, reflecting and emphasizing important issues that the artist wishes to convey.

The Rice Tower is a 9-meter sculpture located in the zoo of Nakhon Ratchasima Province, which is an important city in the northeastern region of Thailand. My wish was to give a new architectural language to the word “barn” or “rice storage” commonly found and used after the harvest season in that region. I took five barns that were about to be demolished, disassembling and reassembling them into one tower.

The barn is usually a standalone, low-rise structure. What I did was removing all the wood pieces and reassembled them into a tall building to connect the ground and the sky. Although the shape of the barn has been changed, its feeling is still maintained through the scent of the rice in husks and the soft fragrance of wood. This work, in addition to remind visitors of the importance of rice as a cash crop of Thailand, communicates that the Northeast of Thailand is where the best quality rice is produced in the largest quantity. Most importantly, I want visitors not to forget the farmers who grow and care for the rice until the harvest season.

Nowadays, wooden barns are being replaced with other materials for durability, but not necessarily more sustainable, such as polycarbonate. This inspired me to give a new language to the wooden barn, and to make it more accessible to people. During the day, the Rice Tower is a playground for children and home to birds and other animals during the night. It can be said that the Rice Tower welcomes visitors 24 hours a day.