September 08, 2019
On the outskirts of Chiang Mai you will see something which, at first glance, looks like an alien spacecraft. Closer inspection reveals that it is a building shaped like a grand piano. So, what is it for? A concert hall? No. A music academy? No. A restaurant with a piano bar? Again, no.
It is, in fact, the Rajanagarinda Institute, Department of Mental Health. The institute specialises in the mental health problems of children. Its services include Electroencephalograms and Chromosome analysis. That's fine, but why is the building shaped like a giant grand piano? My best guess is that the architect was one of the patients.
As the largest child development institute in the whole of Thailand and the first of its kind in the country, children and parents from every province visit the centre, including people from neighbouring countries, and there are also many westerners that visit the centre. Their methodologies for treating children that involve constant academic research are advanced on a global scale, as is their equipment.
“It symbolises what we stand for,” says Dr. Samai Sirithongthaworn, the Director of Rajanagarindra Institute of Child Development (RCID), who came up with idea of the design, “the piano is a symbol of art, of music, of performance.” He goes on to say that through the medium of art many of the thousands of children that the institute helps develop life skills and gain more independence and confidence going into the future.