The Atelier sits in a neighbourhood with constant construction activity and a godown is in its immediate vicinity. Creating a learning space for a young age group on such a site required that the school be an enclosed and protective space. The site factor played a key role in the design, along with the Reggio-Emilia education approach itself, on which the school is based.

The Atelier | Biome Environmental Solutions - sheet 1
© Vivek Muthuramalingam

Architects: Biome Environmental Solutions
Location: Sarjapur Rd, Byraveshwara Industrial Estate, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560091, India
Design Team: Chitra Vishwanath, Anurag Tamhankar, Sharath Nayak, Soujanya Krishnaprasad, Prasenjit Shukla, Lekha Samant, Shibani Choudhary
Area: 985.0 sqm
Project Year: 2016 IRRAD Gurgaon
Photographs: Vivek Muthuramalingam
Manufacturers: Saint Gobain, Jaquar, cera

Unlike the longstanding notion of everlasting buildings, it is not uncommon to see built spaces being renovated or redone entirely to keep pace with people’s changing needs. The permanence of a building may no longer be a prerequisite in its design. This being accepted, it is necessary to allow material recovery and recycling, or reconstruct the same building elsewhere – anything but create debris that will occupy landfills.

The Atelier | Biome Environmental Solutions - sheet 2
© Vivek Muthuramalingam

Various building techniques make the design economical and recoverable to the maximum – chappadigranite stone slab foundation, paver block flooring, paper tube partition walls, and bolted steel supports – creating a structure that can be transposed. The external fabricated façade is a tack-welded mild steel frame with panels of perforated metal sheet, pinewood, reflective glass, operable louvres and sliding windows, planned with regard to light and ventilation. CSEBs made of soil from different sites in the locality create pleasing patterns which harmonize with the floor colours. GI sheet is used in consideration of the roof slope, with a false ceiling of bamboo mat plywood for thermal and sound insulation, which further imparts a sense of warmth. Preference for a hand-crafted material such as bamboo mat over the conventional plywood allows a valuable skill to be preserved.

The Atelier | Biome Environmental Solutions - sheet 3
© Vivek Muthuramalingam

Exploratory learning is encouraged through a permeable design of the interiors – walls of varying heights enclosing curvilinear classrooms and common spaces under a skylight-dotted roof. The roof of the Atelier is supported on eight columns, each in the form of a branching tree. This tree form, while being a structural element, allows the roof to be perceived from a height that children can relate to. It is also a reinterpretation of learning under a tree, a common sight in rural parts of the country.

© Vivek Muthuramalingam

The Atelier building consists of four classrooms, a studio and a childhood stimulation centre around a central piazza, with filter spaces allowing transition between the rooms and the piazza. The toilet is designed with consideration to the young age group, cubicles scaled appropriately for children as well as their need to be supervised. Open drains in the wash area and urinal walls are incorporated for ease of use and maintenance.

© Vivek Muthuramalingam

Rainwater is harvested from the entire roof area, filtered and collected in the sump tank which overflows into a groundwater recharge well, effecting water security. Solid waste from the school is disposed of in twin leach pits which are effective in returning nutrient to the soil.


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