Site Planning Principles adopted in the project
The Site, part of a sugar industry campus, included a small preexisting primary school for the industry’s workers. The new school was to be built for extending the class strength to Class 8 and was planned to be extended into the adjoining greens. But the new building was planned as a compact facility around courtyards for light and ventilation preserving most of the green area as play areas for children. The building was also planned to preserve all trees on site, w ith incorporation into the courtyards of those which overlapped with the proposed building envelope. Hard Paving was restricted to the bare minimum with only essential paved passages laid out.
Design of Mass & Volume
The volume is developed compactly into a G+1 structure around courtyards, with provision for future vertical and horizontal expansion. The courtyards are proportioned to be shaded and due to temperature and pressure differentials, the cooled air inside ventilates into the classrooms, whereas the hot air from the classroom ventilates out from the high ventilators, which are designed flush with the ceiling. The courtyards also work for bringing in diffused light into the classrooms, besides the reflected light coming from the building edge through the light shelves above the windows. Simultaneously, direct glare is sought to be avoided by means of adequate recessing of the classroom windows.
Use of the building / how does it meets its designated functions
First floor plan
Ground floor plan
Space design in the school @ averages 2sqm/child in the classroom and provides equivalence with the best of facilities and national education norms. Provision for this through additional cost is counterbalanced by utilizing cost efficient local building materials to create a cost efficient facility despite all special plumbing and electrical equipment. A no. of child friendly elements including pre-primary runner boards, accessible shelving for “teaching learning educational material”, display reapers, story telling corners, arches and ramps as inbuilt play elements aim at creating a stimulating environment, enabling the pedagogic emphasis on the play-way method of teaching. Hexagonal or pentagonal classrooms help create multiple subject corners.
The school is designed for easy access for the physically challenged. Besides providing access ramps and a disable friendly toilet/restroom, a dedicated class-space has been earmarked for special equipment for the differently-abled children.
Use of appropriate materials and finishes
Built form and materials
The project uses local building materials for creating a contextual aesthetic with the locally available clay brick for creating its various elements, arches, Jali screens etc. Usage of Local Building materials including exposed bricks walls and Sandstone copings provides a palate of materials with low embodied energy, besides facilitating ease of construction. Classrooms are finished in coloured cement floors and passages paved with kota stone with marble strips.
Use of appropriate building, artisan, and construction techniques
Exposed brick finish with natural brick is a local skill effectively utilized to reduce the dependence on painted wall finishes or expensive claddings. Ability to span a large no. of openings with brick arches reduced the energy spend on RCC openings. Local materials like Stone Copings, Brick Bat Coba waterproofing, metal windows/ventilators, Brick Jalis are extremely useful in promoting this paradigm.
Treatment of Landscape
The land chosen for the project is in fact a reclaimed piece of land which was covered later with earth good for planting, which creates as example for revitalizing dead land. The land also now includes a no. of trees which have all been conserved in the building design, with some also incorporated as landscaping elements within the building envelope. The Chosen site is also in immediate proximity to the worker’s housing, which allows even younger children easy walking access towards the school, rather than the tedium of everyday having to walk large distances or having to undertake long public transport rides. Walking paths and service corridors are minimized to maximize the soft paving component.
Sustainable or Energy Conservation Systems employed
The Shaded windows and the compact courtyards provides a contextual climatic response to the harsh climate which consists of very hot summers together with cold winters, and an unusually dusty environment. The complex is itself powered from sugarcane waste based energy. In the school building, Passive Cooling is provided by vaccum insulation/ reflective roofs. Water is also being used as a cooling element for the courtyard air which in turn cools the classrooms. Since it is only a day use school, adequate Daylighting design needs only supplemental energy efficient lighting design @4 Watts/sqm (66% saving vis-à-vis the ECBC standard). Equipment for preventing energy leakage and time based auto switching is provided from a collaborating electrical industry house. Stormwater is collected for use in floor-washing and horticulture, which to also reduce to some extent the pumping requirements for additional water.
Design of Openings & Fenestrations
The compact design of the built form is supplemented by a judicious use of window fenestrations to daylight all of the interior spaces. Shaded glass windows are located both on the outside and the passage side to provide daylight. In addition, slit windows with a partially opening mechanism are provided on the passage side of the classrooms to aid natural cross ventilation of cool air from the courtyard. The hot air from the classroom exists from the peripheral window top ventilator, which is designed flush with the ceiling. The ventilator also benefits the indoor daylighting by using a light shelve (a light colour topped slab in-between the window and the ventilator) which lets in a significant quantity of diffused natural light deep into the classroom.
Design of Special features, roof forms etc
The Design is created in a Y Form, with future possibility to branch out in any direction.
How well new elements and creative technical solutions respect vernacular technology
Vernacular Building Materials, Building Systems and construction techniques have all but disappeared from the mainstream construction market in urban areas. A no. of new materials are making an entry into the field as ostensibly sustainable materials, but possess a very high embodied energy due to the processing and the transportation involved in their usage. The Shriram Junior High school project attempts a first principles approach and utilizes local materials and labour in creating an inspiring built environment for the students. Materials like Good quality red brick is available in the vicinity together with excellent masons / labour who are aware of the methods to create brick arches, brick jails and brick wall patterns. Local craftsmen are utilized to execute a variety of stonework, ironwork and other elements, which are still embedded in the construction vocabulary of the region.
Contribution to community’s cultural continuum (Key stakeholders and involvement of local community in project)
The school project, which is being built in close proximity to the parent industrial structures, through its passive solar design, local material usage and resource efficient service design tries to inculcate into both the construction process and the user group’s psyche, the philosophy of reducing the human footprint on our environment. The project itself has been developed over the past one year with stepwise communication and understanding of all promoters, stakeholders, service designers, with a large no. of doubts and misgivings being cleared at every step. A no. of role players, including the construction agency have been chosen as a resource of people who have worked locally, who have also executed other projects within the industry campus.
Impact of project on sustainable development practice and policy
Some of the green projects currently are exemplifying a high embodied energy and low maintenance energy paradigm by using many new processed materials. This project makes a case for a back-to-the-roots policy of working on first principles in the design of the built environment, with local materials and an efficient building envelope as its base.
Ongoing socio-economic viability and relevance of the project
This school for the industry’s workers was conceptualized as the existing small school was lacking infrastructure and most people were sending their children to far off schools. This project, by its proximal location to the industry, creation of a new building, a new pedagogical agenda and the CBSE accredition has created a much needed resource within the community. This project has also led to the conceptualization of a complementary community school project among the surrounding rural region. This school itself now attracts a no. of students of outlying areas, wherein the outgo has been reversed.
The complexity, sensitivity and technical consistency of the project methodology
The School creates an enabling environment for the socially disadvantaged factory floor workers, who are normally at the mercy of high priced private sector education. The school is instead designed at walkable distance and improves parental involvement with the non-profit society running the school. The Building provides child friendly elements for the playway method of teaching, easy access and special spaces and toilets for the physically challenged.