Building a Sustainable Future in Thailand
Posted by Sherry on October 21, 2015 2:52 PM
Step into the Center for Architectural Studies at Marywood and you will be in awe. The beauty of the building, along with the inspiring projects that students create, will leave you inspired. The work that the architecture and interior architecture students produce is nothing short of incredible. Case in point: Amanda Fischer, a 2011 graduate of the interior architecture program who found her passion in natural building.
Natural building includes a variety of building techniques that focus on creating sustainable buildings which minimize their negative ecological impact. The less formal definition, according to Amanda, is “figuring out what the community needs in our designs, and how history plays a key role in that process.”
Through her graduate thesis, a year-long project, Amanda was encouraged to question why things are built the way they are, and how they are benefiting or should benefit their surroundings. Marywood’s architecture/interior architecture program is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certified. Students in the programs learn about sustainability with the LEED rating system as well as Cradle to Cradle (biomimetic approach to the design of products and systems).
Path to Passion
Amanda’s path began at Marywood. However, her path has evolved through her desire to further her education and goals. “Elements of natural design are woven into studios at various points of the curriculum,” said her interior architecture professor Stephen Garrison. “However, Amanda has fervently pursued those interests post-graduation,” he continued.
Amanda began teaching at a Drafting School in Philadelphia, as well as teaching at Marywood. While teaching she was able to question what is being taught to future architects and designers and what the needs of the world are. After briefly engaging in university-level teaching, she packed what she could fit into her car and headed to California. She enrolled in a program to become a certified sustainable building advisor. From there, Amanda signed up for an intensive natural building workshop with Michael Smith, and, for the past two years, she has jumped at every opportunity to work on projects, as well as freelance sustainable building consulting.
Building a Future in Thailand
In March of this year, Amanda traveled to Koh Lanta Yai, an island in the southern part of Thailand. Over a three-month period, Amanda and volunteers from all over the world embarked on building a community structure, from adobe brick, for future use as a school.
The landowners, Anke and Aoi Lanta, have been working for over five years to promote sustainability and hands on learning. The school is part of AsaLanta, an Asian Sustainability Academy.
In addition to working on the brick-making process, laying the bricks, and earthen plastering, Amanda and volunteers were able to work with some natural paint finishes.
When asked what advice she has for freshmen architecture students, Amanda replied, “Have more faith. Have more faith that everything does work out. Have faith that your professors and the people around you are helping to lead you in the right direction.”
She added, “Have faith that if you put the effort in and really question what architecture and design mean to you, you will be successful in whatever you do.”
Amanda is currently working on a residential project for an Australian woman, whose house will be built in Thailand. Still in the early stages of planning, the project is set to begin in December. She plans to have volunteers helping through all stages, and she will also teach workshops to get the house built.
“I will continue to follow this natural building journey and to keep learning and challenging myself with every project.”