Soch+alaya: School of Design

A region based proposal for design schools

 

 

A thin line exists between wants and needs, between living and surviving. The difference is ‘we want to live and we need to survive’; our basic needs being food, shelter and clothing. What governs them is the nature of surrounding, which in turn is governed by design. The prefix “re” in the word redesign suggests that while retaining the original concept and keeping in mind the knowledge, has the ability to improve through existing solutions.

Design is context based. It includes aspects like social, cultural, economy, ecology, climate, geography etc. each of these have a physical and psychological understanding and have to be looked into. Traditional design principles take care of all these aspects, hence traditional concepts are site specific or rather region based. The design deals with the needs of the local and the wants of the coming generation through its educational policies and its architectural language. Teaching methodology and syllabus for the school was worked on the basis of contemporary & traditional survey, thus developing the physical program of the school.  Padmanabhapuram palace is considered as one of the purest form of traditional architecture in Kerala, its design principles has given direction to the proposed school, be it planning or details.

The building uses local materials like laterite, wood (waste wood in the form of ply as compared to traditional timber sections), mud and bamboo. The site lies in a warm and humid climatic zone and has a varying gradient of slope towards the North. These conditions have been taken to advantage or have been tackled using different methods e.g. Tree shadow zones( morning) are devoid of studios instead they have been used as staggered pathways to walk through(staggered in order to tackle site slope & to make full use of site views). The built form has been aligned to give maximum shade and optimum light. By an active ventilation method (stack, cross etc) and by orienting the built form in accordance to the existing landscape the humidity of the site has been taken care of.

No building is taller than the skyline of trees, thus revering nature.Surface and Waste water managementhas been taken care of through traditional as well as modern techniques. A Kolam (kolam- traditional stepped water tank) is provided in the southern tip of the site since it is the low lying ground. Surface water from the entire site is directed into this tank and the extra water is let out into the paddy in front of the site. A Banana circlehas been provided around washrooms in order to take care of grey water. The program and activities in the school, the public library, the kolam, the playground and the road provided through the site makes it more welcoming.

Journey taken on this route would make a person realize what really is necessary and how the context governs these necessities and finally how the design overcomes them, the school being an example in itself.

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