Burgbarnburi – Persuading Us To Live Sustainably

Burgbarnburi – Persuading Us To Live Sustainably

The story of one of the world’s leading creatives and his family’s journey to build a beautiful place that would persuade people to live sustainably.

Thirasak Tanapatanakul is the Worldwide Chairman of Creative Juice/Bangkok. Over the last ten years he has won almost every creative award worth winning. In 2006 was ranked as the number one creative in Asia and has judged at many of the creative awards globally.

“I can also be someone who can make this world better.”

Thirasak has always had a social conscience. Go to the Creative Juice/Bangkok website and you will see a tiny window of content in the middle of a black screen, which only loads when you click on the title. The explanation: “…even our website is using less energy.” Some might see this as a contradiction in terms from an advertising agency, but as Thirasak explains, “I’m still creating advertising but with the belief that, if I am someone who partly made this world worse, I am also someone who can make this world better.”

A large fish painted on the wall of one of the buildings at Burgbarnburi

It was this belief that led him and his wife to create their “Family Project”. You can watch the full story in the video below, but here it is briefly. His four-year-old year old son asked him for the latest smartphone. When he ignored him, as any sensible parent of a four-year-old would, his son erupted into a huge meltdown of epic proportions.

Shocked that someone so young and with no real need for a smartphone could desire one so ardently, Thirasak was prompted to consider his own contribution to this state of affairs. “It was because of creative people like me. It was because of creative people like us. Our job is to stimulate people to consume.” He resolved to do something about it, to find ways to persuade people to consume more ethically and live sustainably.

Burgbarnburi was born.

Video by markmai

“Three acres dedicated to the principle of self-sufficient living to help people to realize what they need in life and what they don’t.”

Thirasak bought a piece of land near a UNESCO site in Khao Yai, two hours away from Bangkok. He and his wife set to work. Inspired by their own memories of a simple childhood, traditional architecture in the local area, and the design requirements of a place that is intrinsically connected to nature they created their ‘Village of Joy’. “Three acres dedicated to the principle of self-sufficient living to help people to realise what they need in life and what they don’t. Our design is not only about the architecture”, says Thirasak, “But also the activities and programmes we have designed for guests which allow them to experience happiness from simple living.”

Happiness is a central concept at Burgbarnburi. Thirasak is passionate about helping people to find happiness without consumption. “In our daily life we can be happy with appropriate consumption, wherever we live” he says, “we must design our own life, we must not be persuaded by consumerism without conscience. Consumption is not the only thing that can make us happy. Happiness can simply appear when we have good relationships with our family, our colleagues, our friends and our communities. When we appreciate the nature that surrounds us we can enjoy our life.”

“We must design our own life, we must not be persuaded by consumerism without conscience.”

Thirasak, creator of Burgbarnburi, working one of the village's rice padi's. Farming naturally to teach people how to consume less

Everything at Burgbarnburi is designed with this in mind. The food is grown traditionally on site. Entertainment is created by the visitors: paper shadow-puppet shows, clay modelling and the simple joys of sliding in mud or leaping into a creek. Like Villa Kalisat, which we also visited, Burgbarnburi has built a relationship with the local people employing them and holding art camps for children in the village.

“It’s a great place to look for inspiration”

Burgbarnburi is not just a retreat. Thirasak describes it as a “creative camp”, where people can come to give and participate in workshops. “All the workshops take place in the fresh air, close to the water.” He has successfully run sessions for various industries including advertising and media, and companies in oil and gas, retail, transportation, entertainment and telecommunications. “It’s a great place to look for inspiration and to think of ways to move a brand forward. It’s a very natural atmosphere.” Other visitors to Burgbarnburi include families with children, teachers and their students and NGO’s such as Global Eco Village.

One of Thirasak's hand drawn design sketch's of Burgbarnburi, the village that teaches us how to comsume less, showing his family and the main building

It is clear talking to Thirasak, that what Burgbarnburi is first and foremost about is happiness, family and nature. “Everyday that I am here working with my family is the best day”, he says. “The simple life, the good food and fresh air, the new friends and guests who join us. Watching them enjoy Burgbarnburi and solving some of their life crisis just by coming here. Consumerism is taking something for ourselves. Here we learn that giving is what brings us joy.”

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