Observation House, Panacea, Thailand

learning through nutrition, permaculture + mindfulness

Panacea is the Greek goddess of healing, hence this centre is a centre for learning how to live sustainably, healthy and heal ourselves and our environment. Located in Central Thailand, Nakhon Ratchasima Province, in the district of Muak Lek. The 2 ha site is on the outskirts of the town of Muak Lek, boarding a large river, local farmers, coconut plantations and a scout camp.

The Client’s vision is to create a community which will showcase and teach sustainable practices. The centre will teach Organic Farming, Natural Building, Appropriate Technology, Permaculture, Yoga, Mindfulness and Reiki Energy Healing.

Observation House is the first realised build of the Panacea Project, completed in April 2019. Observation is the first thing taught in permaculture, stressing the importance of observing the flows of nature on the site for at least a year before doing any big works. Observing the sun, wind, rain, rivers, animals, insects, plants and their interrelationships. We want to work with nature not against it.

Built using the local materials such as earth blocks, lime clay plasters, bamboo and the green roof. The Observation House is immersed in its surrounding nature. Orientated the length of the building east-west, to avoid large heat gains of low angle sun in the afternoons.  With the deck facing towards the pond and the old food forest, providing greater visual connections between inside and out.

The passively cooled by carefully places windows and door openings create cross and stack ventilations patterns. Earth is the greatest natural breathable insulator. Plus the green roof build-up of 5cm sand,  5cm of earth and turf on top, means in the middle of the hot day the indoor spaces remain cool.

Compost produced heat as a natural bio-product of decomposition. All organic matter will decompose sooner or later. SAWA Collaborator, Paul Edginton, Permaculture, Approbate technologists teacher, also known as the ‘The compost king’ showed us how to heat water with our own waste. We made a compost heap of 1.5m wide and 2m tall. Feeding it combination of kitchen waste, urine, straw and water. Much to the excitement, the compost heap produced water up to 60 or 70 degrees, much hotter than needed for our showers. Hence we used cold water to balance the temperatures to meet our various needs.

Design and construction processes.

Workshop with Bangkok Architecture Students



Build Area