Montessori way of learning has been an emerging concept of education in the city of Mumbai for the past couple of years. The philosophy is rooted in the belief that children are naturally curious, self-directed learners who flourish in an environment that respects their individuality. Dr. Maria Montessori, the pioneer of this approach, emphasized the importance of providing children with the freedom to explore and learn through hands-on experience.

Project Name: Creating Harmony: Infusing Montessori Principles into Pre-school Space Design / Atelier ARBO
Office Name: Atelier ARBO
Office Website:
Firm Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Completion Year: August 2023
Gross Built Area (m2/ ft2): 3,100 Sq.Ft.
Project Location:  Lower Parel, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Program / Use / Building Function: School
Lead Architects: Rinka D’Monte
Photo Credits: Fabien C

Montessori Pre School in Mumbai by Atelier ARBO - Sheet5
©Fabien C

Over 20 years, Harmony Montessori, in Mumbai, has been providing education for children from age 14 months to 12 years based on Montessori philosophy. With gradual growth, the institute opened its fourth branch of around 3,100 Sq.Ft. area at Lower Parel, Mumbai in 2023. The premise is located within an old industrial complex which is currently used by few other commercial units. Since the premise is located away from the hustle of the main road, it provides the appropriate silence for a school.

While the design prioritized openness within the school, it intentionally emphasized on an open plan layout from the main entrance through the common play area and to the three classrooms. As we studied the physical proportions of young children, we understood the use of spaces through the eyes of a child. By embracing elements of the Montessori philosophy, the design environment was developed to an appropriate height for multi-age children which would make it easier for them to approach and access the learning material.

Montessori Pre School in Mumbai by Atelier ARBO - Sheet7
©Fabien C

When all the educational material is placed at a child’s height, it encourages choice for exploration and hands-on experience. Moreover, students take ownership of their learning and engage more deeply with the curriculum. With this well-prepared environment, the children will purposefully engage in independent exploration and discovery. Additionally, the multi-age classrooms in this Montessori school will provide opportunities for peer-mentorship and collaboration fostering a sense of community and mutual respect among students.

The Common Play space is a crucial connecting link between all the classrooms and it acts as an informal learning space with indoor play equipment and a library corner. Each classroom then opens up to become a part of this larger space if and when required. The longer length of this Common Play area has a continuous array of windows which provides a panoramic outdoor view that brings in the much-needed natural light and ventilation. Taking advantage of this, we added multiple floor cushions in the library space so as to provide comfortable and relaxing seating to optimize the dynamic views of the sky.

Montessori Pre School in Mumbai by Atelier ARBO - Sheet9
©Fabien C

Young children respond best to a calm and relaxed classroom atmosphere; hence it was essential to consider and evaluate the quality of sound during peak hours of the school. In order to combat this, a baffle ceiling of non-woven polyester fiber acoustical panels was used to absorb the reflected sound. While developing the structured environment, the interior design approach was minimal so as to empower children freedom to explore the material and space at their own pace. While instilling a sense of responsibility and belonging, the design principle preferred neutral and natural color palette which complimented well with the Montessori material and enhanced the harmony within the classroom. With limited access to outdoor space the overall indoor plantation was sensibly chosen to improve the indoor air quality as well as to provide a calm, cool and a peaceful environment. The organic design ensured easy access to indoor plants that would encourage children to develop empathy towards nature.

As we reflect on the principles of Montessori education, it becomes clear that this approach holds the potential to shape bright, well-rounded individuals who are equipped to navigate the complexities of the future with confidence, resilience and a deep sense of purpose. This generously spacious school has only three classrooms which encourage multi-age group children to work and play together. These alternative ways of education are the core ideas which will evolve a new generation of progressive thinkers.


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