A cinnamon co-operative in Sumatra is combines simple detailing with a strong sense of social purpose
TYIN Tegnestue is a non-profit organization made up of architects and students from Trondheim’s Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). To date, the group has designed and built a series of low-cost projects in Thailand with the aim of improving conditions and transferring skills to local communities. Funding comes from over 60 Norwegian companies backed by private contributions.
This project for a training centre in Indonesia is typical. Set in the cinnamon forests of Sumatra, where 85 per cent of the world’s cinnamon is produced, it provides training and education for local farmers and workers.The aim of the client, Cassia Co-op, is to counter exploitative practices by paying a fair price for cinnamon as well as providing healthcare and education for its employees. A large, lightweight roof shelters a series of courtyards and rooms, including a small laboratory, offices, classroom and kitchen.
Locally produced brick and cinnamon trunks (the disregarded by-product of cinnamon cultivation) are the main materials.The giant roof is supported by generic Y-framed columns bolted to concrete footings, giving the interior an evocatively arboreal appearance, like being in a manmade glade.Constructed in three months by an untrained workforce of 70 locals, aided by eight water buffaloes hauling trees from the forest and an on-site sawmill, the building relies on a repertoire of simple details. Yet it still exudes a sense of dignity and delight, the archetypal primitive hut reconceptualised for the tropics with a strong sense of social purpose, all of which appealed to the jury.