Community furniture Klong 3, Thailand: flexible bench designed for elderly people

Project name: Community Furniture in Klong 3

Funder/Sponsor: Red Bull Spirit

Collaborator: –  

Year: 2011

Project type: Design & Construction



In 2011, Red Bull Spirit – now Kratingdaeng Spirit – wanted to focus part of their CSR programme on building appropriate space for an aging society. Red Bull Spirit had a connection with the “One Century Community” in Klong 3, who they had already worked with on the renovation of a community space.

Designing Community Furniture

The One Century Community in Klong 3 is located along the canal: the community is linear and very narrow. Four sites were selected for this project: four run down community spaces, all overseeing the canal, and three types of community furniture were developed to be used in the renovation of these sites. We run design workshops with elderly people and children. Most adults were working while children were available on weekends. The community’s elderly people proposed many different ideas, as they were the main users of the space and furniture.

We settled on three pieces of furniture for this community:

1.  A flexible bench: elderly people in this community do not have a space to socialise. The existing benches are too hard and uncomfortable for them to sit on. The woven rubber allowed for more flexibility, and was friendlier to older users. The bench has two levels – one for adults and a lower one for children – which plays into Thai culture where children sit lower than adults.

2. A structure for a vertical garden and herb garden: the elderly people in this community were very interested in growing vegetables as it would give them a reason to come out of their house and socialise. The vertical herb garden takes little space, which is ideal for this community. The main structure is mostly made of bamboo, with easy tying techniques which are familiar to everybody. The diameter of the local bamboo is small, so only vegetables with short roots can be grown here such as coriander, green onions and watercress. Longer root vegetables can be planted in the ground.

3. An exercise piece made of bamboo for elderly people: this was based on the exercises that elderly people enjoy doing. The piece allows them to do various exercises, while children can use the bamboo instrument fitted on the machine.

We used locally sourced materials, thus allowing the community members to build the furniture themselves, which would permit them to repair them by themselves at minimal cost. We used local bamboo, wood from run down houses and the inside rubber from motorcycle tyres, as everyone in this community rides a motorbike. The elderly people built the entire community so there is a tradition of builders.