“The long-established Traill has recently reinvented itself as Thailand’s first boutique international school.”
“Far more surprising to many, however, is Traill’s distinguished position as being the first school in Thailand authorised to deliver Cambridge IGCSE and A level examinations.”
“A good design to me is one that effortlessly provides comfort
and homeliness, while bringing together latest design innovation -
and I am delighted to say we have achieved this.”
|It is rare to find cutting edge design in a
place where tradition can be traced back as far as the 11th century.
But then Traill – recently reinvented as Thailand’s first boutique
international school - always has been full of surprises.
Tucked away discreetly down Soi 16 off Ramkamhaeng Road, the surprising Traill is also one of Bangkok’s best kept secrets. Stroll down this leafy avenue and you will discover a stylish insignia set in relief against a burnished bronze background. This is the ancient coat of arms of the Traills, a distinguished British family with director ancestry extending back to the 11th century. It also marks the entrance to one of the oldest international schools in Bangkok – a school recently reinvented as Thailand’s first boutique international school.
Mr. and Mrs. Traill established Traill School in the 1960s to cater primarily for the expatriate population. A trained teacher, Mr Traill had a clear vision for his school and adopted the very best of British education combined with internationalism. Traill became known as a friendly and secure community with high academic standards. Far more surprising to many, however, is Traill’s distinguished position as being the first school in Thailand authorised to deliver Cambridge IGCSE and A level examinations. The school is also home to more than its share of famous celebrities, providing both stage and t.v. stars with a school that has nurtured them from their days of anonymity.
But why all the secrecy, we wondered. We decided to ask school director Robert Traill. “The answer lies in the school’s early decision to remain small and exclusive,” he said. “We wanted to offer our quality education to only a chosen few.” Highly selective, and delivering exacting standards of education from the start, the school has never even marketed or advertised itself. It has never needed to; not until the school’s recent expansion that is.
“The recent expansion has meant that we are now in a position to offer the special Traill educational experience to a wider clientele,” Robert explained. Enter the school premises today, and you are in for yet another surprise. Traill’s ties go all the way back to the 11th century, and yet the design of the school’s new campus remains strongly futuristic…
Earlier this year, the school completed the first phase of its extensive renovation – a brand new frontage, reception area and office suite, complete with adjacent ice-cooled basketball court, edged by a bubble-like semi-transparent wall – reminiscent of Suvannabhumi’s exterior. This was only the start, however. By the end of the year, the old campus will have been virtually replaced by its multi-million baht new facilities - amongst them, a new four-storey complex that will be home to a library, art centre and exhibition area, plus kindergarten and various dome-ceilinged classrooms. A multi-million baht investment, the new building will set the tone for what looks like being an exciting future for Traill.
Majestically fronted by a free-form emerald ground-to-roof glass wall, the front of the building is a seamless flow of green curves. Were it not for the solid teak pillars, supporting the flowing covered walkway, you could be forgiven for mistaking it for a structure that belongs far into the future. The overall look is stylish, spacious and cool. It really is all of that.
“I asked the architect for a building that would always look fresh and inviting,” Robert confided in us. “It had to have a boutique feel about it. Our school community shares long and established relationships, and I needed somewhere that would ensure their continuity.”
Architect Tongchai Sunyaariyaporn of T Architecture had evidently been inspired by that. “Our design brief from the school was also to provide a building that enhances learning – something research has found possible via maximum natural light and aesthetically pleasing surroundings. We also plan to keep stress levels low and creative energy high through the use of both nature and water,” said Tongchai.
At four storeys high, the building might easily be mistaken for higher than that, thanks to the seamless design, generous room height and curving overhung roof.
A highlight of the building is the library, whose upper level is reached by an all-black one-piece marble spiral stairway. “The sense of continuity might have been lost with an angular staircase,” Robert told us. And even on upper floors, the stairs are adamantly curving – providing exciting views from the building’s glass frontage.
The library itself is the jewel in the crown. Only two storeys high (with a mezzaine floor), the ceiling nevertheless seems to run on forever – much like its all-glass front wall. No ceiling boards have been used in this huge area, and the exposed pipes and ducts add dimension and continuity in ways that few other ceilings could have. Down below on the ground floor, the library reception would look at home in any five-star property. There is a feeling of height, dimension and almost disbelief. Could this really be a part of a school, we wonder!
From virtually anywhere in the building the school’s new clock tower can be spotted – a 10-metre high construction made of imported materials .
Creating further buzz is the outdoor garden library, where a waterfall – extending the entire length of the library’s wall – comforts readers with its gentle flow.
“I wanted a design that effortlessly provides comfort and homeliness,
while bringing together latest design innovation; I am delighted to
say we have achieved this.” Meanwhile, a strong emphasis on the use
of natural materials make the building also environmentally sensitive.
“It’s a winning combination that we’re very proud of,” concludes Robert.
Of course quality education is about more than appearances. All Traill teachers are experienced professionals with up-to-date knowledge. What is more, they continue to offer the high academic standards that have been a feature of the Traill experience for more than 40 years. The difference now is that Traill – newly reinvented as Thailand’s first boutique school – has opened its doors a touch wider, allowing more students to enjoy a long-proven educational experience, and with perhaps a smidgen less secrecy than before. I only hope they continue to surprise us.