Kaomai Estate 1955 is an extension of Kaomai Lanna Resort in San Pa Tong district, Chiang Mai. Its original site was a sixty years old tobacco processing estate which housed fifty tobacco drying buildings surrounded by many multi decade aged trees.
The project was launched in 2016 with the transformation of the deserted area behind the resort. The work includes the renovation of two museum buildings from two tobacco drying barns, the conversion of a cafe from a rare twin barn, the creation of an amphitheater for outdoor recreational space and the rejuvenation of several historic lanes with an outdoor museum concept to educate the visitors about the architectural and natural heritage. The information about each tobacco drying barn types from the different time periods, the botanical identification signs attached on more than 100 species of plants and an expert survey finding of more than 50 species of birds found in the area would offer the visitors a heritage reminiscing experience.
Kaomai Estate 1955’s owner and its design teams aim to conserve its remaining tobacco drying structures as architecture heritage to coexist with the multi-decade
old trees and the surrounding nature, while educating the locals and visitors about the San Pa Tong heritage via the sustainable tourism.
Cafe Rong Bom, “tobacco drying barn”, is renovated from Thung Siew Farm’s unique twin tobacco drying barn, built by combining two former barns in 1978, after one of the barns was burned down in 1968. Kaomai Estate 1955’s architects and artisans teamed up to carefully rejuvenate and highlight the long history of the site through the design of the building and the “wall exhibition”.
Café Rongbom serves our chef’s homemade desserts and seasonal sorbet soft serves, while our baristas are proud of our coffee and
tea varieties along with the unique local seasonal fruit juice, harvested from our own and the nearby community farms.
Service Hours: 09:00-18:00
Tel. 053-481-201 ext. 556
Kaomai Estate 1955 applies opened museum concept.
While guests can learn about the estate’s architectural and natural heritage from the structures themselves and from the descriptive
signs close to the structures and on each tree, a renovated museum building from an old red brick tobacco drying barn at the gateway
of Kaomai Estate 1955 presents the heritage history on the timeline exhibition platform. In the opposite, another museum building renovated
from the concrete block style with all the original appearances and curing elements restored allows the users to understand how a tobacco
processing barn operated in the past.
The deserted historic lanes in between the tobacco drying barns were revitalized to be “History-Ecology Museum” routes and pedestrianized by constructing pavement, which are natural materials and available in local areas. Each of the lanes have different characters; the main Kaomai avenue runs through Kaomai Estate’s heart. Brick lane shows another quiet aspect of the site while Green lane has been popular as picture spots with the row of “Green buildings” in the background.
Another open space in the heart of the estate was transformed into the outdoor amphitheater, providing multi-purposed
space for Kaomai Estate 1955. The amphitheater has attracted many recreation activities and events from the locals and visitors.
The last owner of Farm Thung Siew’s idea to keep the estate’s buildings and surrounding trees
intact created an unusual “Oasis” in the middle of the surrounding urban development. This “Oasis” is not
only a green area with thriving more than 100 species of plants and more than 50 species of birds and wildlife,
but it is also the last place with the existence of the valuable heritage from a part of Tung Siew community history,
which has been neglected and almost completely faded away from the local’s memory.
The tobacco drying barns have distinctive characters and function. 6x6 meter-sized barns with gable roofs, furnaces, and flue pipes are the obvious specific elements showing tobacco drying process. In Kaomai Estate 1955, 3 generations of the tobacco drying barns, made of wattle and daub, brick, and concrete block, have remained being historic evidences until nowadays. The wall materials had changed over time because of the local availability and construction technology at that time to maximize the quality of the processed tobacco leaves. Later, some of the barns were extended to increase curing capacity. After industrial era, the barns were used as storage so furnaces and many holes were sealed by bricks, and tobacco leaf sticks and flue pipes were removed.
Kaomai Estate 1955’s project owner realized the importance of the heritage values so the project adopted the reuse strategy without any demolition, along with utilizing the authentic space of the barns and adapting to cultural and social space for the community and tourism. The original sizes and materials of the barns were preserved. The additional parts, following after industrial era, were removed. The original features of the barn were repair and rebuilt by their original materials and techniques.
To strengthen the adaptive reused buildings, the fundamental structures and walls that were mostly in fair condition required maintenance for cracking and flaking. Also, the load bearing elements were repaired by stitching and grouting the cracks and voids. The decayed wattle and daub walls were restored by the local artisans using the original bamboo weaving technique and the local’s original mortar formula. The cracks in brick and concrete block walls were also grouted and the flacked parts were replaced by their original sizes, colors, and masonry techniques. Besides, the broken roof structure was rebuilt matching the original materials. The additional elements in furnace and ventilation outlet’s holes were remove and cleaned carefully. To prevent the barn from moisture, a water blockade layer was built on the floor around the outside walls. All of the preservation techniques aim to revive the original characteristics, features and functions of the tobacco drying barns.
In adaptive-reuse process, the small intervention on the 4 tobacco drying barns, which were selected due to their dilapidated conditions, and the surrounding vacant space were proposed to rejuvenate the estate. The rehabilitation process blended the new elements into the existing built and nature, especially for enhancing the qualities and spirit of the place.
Inside the museum barn, the new steel structure was added to strengthen the existing reinforced concrete structure, while maintaining the subtle assimilation by its dark grey color. The museum shows the authentic brick surfaces and powerful space inside by removing all hanging sticks and illuminating the dimensional walls. Besides, the porous gravel floor helps absorb excess water into the barn. At the center of the barn, the 3-meter-long steel timeline panel serves as an introduction to the estate. On the other hand, the fuel pipes and tobacco leave sticks were reinstalled into the other barn to replicate the exact appearance and the use in the old days.
Café Rongbom reuses the biggest barn of the estate. When the longitudinal walls were replaced by the glass walls, the interrelation of indoor and outdoor space was connected allowing visitors to experience the overall estate while relaxing inside. The concrete block walls on the shorter sides were kept to show the originality of this 3rd generation barn, along with the wall installation art as a summary of the project timeline. The added steel structure supports the existing structure and utilizes the high space of the barn creating two floors of café. The old bricks preserved from the old barns were reused for the counter. Nearby, the kitchen in the next barn was adapted from the original-size barn to the kitchen serving the café and the resort’s restaurant.
The historic lanes revitalize the abandoned space between the barns by paving natural and porous materials, allowing visitors to experience the
sense of place comfortably. The materials are gravel, compacted soil, grass, bricks, and stepping concrete, which are the original materials used
in the estate and available in local areas. At the center of the estate, the earth amphitheater allows the visitors to have 360-degree view of
Kaomai Estate 1955. The amphitheater was sunken into the existing ground level and demarcates the boundary without interfering with the surrounding
architecture and trees.