Master of Architecture Program in Thailand this Summer

July 11, 2023
Submitted By: Office of Marketing and Communication

A group of Master of Architecture students has taken design and theory coursework to a whole new level this summer: The students are spending one month studying in northern Thailand. 

Under the direction of Associate Professor Theodore Sawruk and Jonathon Chester ’18, Vincent Dadamo M’24, Sean Connor M’24, Parker Kalafus M’24, Madison Thibodeau M’24, Jennifer Ketkeorasmy M’24, Jason Merendino M'24, and Caleb Jacobsen M’24 are taking up residence in Chiang Mai, engaging in the graduate curriculum, along with an array of local tours and cultural explorations.  

The University of Hartford graduate Master of Architecture accelerated degree program offers students an international, immersive, project-based learning opportunity over the summer. Experiencing urbanity is a vital component of developing successful architects, and urban immersion is one way the Department of Architecture facilitates this experience. 

While Bangkok offers the students exposure to modern and contemporary Asia, its immense scale does not support the in-depth analysis required of the student coursework. As such, the class will be traveling throughout the country, before finally taking up residence in the northern city of Chiang Mai. 

The first stop is the ancient city of Ayutthaya, founded c. 1350, and the second capital of Siam. Destroyed by the Burmese in the 18th century, Ayutthaya remains a Pompeii-like city of ruined prangs (reliquary towers) and gigantic monasteries. (The class posed for a picture at Wat Phra Si Sanphet, the holiest temple on the site of the old Royal Palace in the ancient capital.)

As the students take residence in Chiang Mai, this historic location will serve as a living studio of urban design, considering the city as a cultural, commercial, and civic center. Founded in 1296, Chiang Mai was the capital of the independent Lanna Kingdom until 1558, and boasts numerous significant works of architecture from this period. It's a city where the past and the present seamlessly merge with modern buildings standing side by side with venerable temples. Exploring the city brought students to both Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.

A short distance north, a trip to Chiang Rai, once the capital of the Mangrai Dynasty (1402–1441), will expose the class to aspects of indigenous culture, as northern Thailand is home to no less than 10 varied hill tribe communities. 

While in Thailand, the graduate architecture students will be working on the design of a river-front office and condominium project. Exploring the concept of critical regionalism, the students will engage both local and international presidents in their proposals. The goal is to renew the existing urban fabric, while providing opportunities for contemporary amenities.

A group of Masters of Architecture students are spending one month studying in northern Thailand.

A group of Masters of Architecture students are spending one month studying in northern Thailand.

A group of Masters of Architecture students are spending one month studying in northern Thailand.