School around a Courtyard
In a country that boasts of having the worlds largest youth population (a majority of whom live in villages), there exists - especially in rural India - an acute shortage of adequate educational facilities. A lack of teaching staff and poor infrastructure are two of the main reasons why young children across rural India are unable to receive a proper education. Thankfully, several Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are currently working independently or with governmental agencies to improve this situation.
Recognizing this need, our studio approached one such organization to help build a small school in a village about 8 hours away from Mumbai. Building in such a context meant working within very tight constraints. Keeping local building materials and technologies in mind, mud, once a commonly used material in the region, became the driving force leading the design.
Taking on the shape of a simple courtyard building, thick mud walls with strategically shaped openings greatly improve thermal insulation, and help draw in light and air. The resulting cave-like interiors (on the exterior and interior) become spaces for inhabitation - sometimes for learning and sometimes for play. A double-roof system, consisting of simple bamboo strips on the bottom and a larger sloping corrugated metal roof on the top further improve the school's micro-climate.
The entire project was designed with the intention of employing local members of the community, with the hope that this project would become a catalyst for further such construction, and that the school itself would become a central focal point within the village.