Nature begets Spirituality and so most religious centres are ensconced amidst nature. Shanti Sadan is a place for worship and service. The spatial planning of this facility, the materials used in construction and the simple form that defines this building are all a reflection of the austere life of the nuns of this community.

Project Name: Shanti Sadan
Studio Name: Between Spaces

Shanti Sadan By Between Spaces - Sheet5
©Between Spaces

The site had a two storied structure, adjacent to an existing hospice, which had become weak due to disrepair and age and couldn’t accommodate the current and future needs of the congregation. Hence the Sisters of St. Ann, Luzern in Mysore invited us to design a new facility that could accommodate a few bedrooms, a dormitory, a classroom, dining and kitchen facility, an office and a chapel.

Shanti Sadan By Between Spaces - Sheet7
©Between Spaces

Programmatically, the building has two important parts– the accommodation facility and the Chapel. The dormitory, the bedrooms, a classroom, an office, the dining and the kitchen are all clubbed together in a linear arrangement over two floors, whereas the chapel has been detached from the main block and pulled out into the greenery around. Metaphorically, this arrangement helped us in detaching oneself from the worldly affairs while in the place of worship.

The overall aesthetics of the building drew its inspirations from Buddhist caves at Ajanta with vaulted ceiling, the apsidal planning of Durga temple at Aihole, Buddhist caves at Ajanta and the typical Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic Church plans. The two storied linear mass on the northern side has an RCC vault roof finished in China mosaic to reflect the summer heat. This not only creates a more heightened spatial experience akin to the ones we get in all religious buildings but also keeps the interior cool by pushing the ceiling higher and accommodates the bunker beds in the dormitory.

Shanti Sadan By Between Spaces - Sheet9
©Between Spaces

Spatially, the double storied linear mass in the rear is connected to the single-story programs in the foreground through two small courtyards. These courtyards bring in the pause points in this small building and allow good cross ventilation.

The linearity of the vaulted roof is punctuated by the verticality of two towers – a small one over the Chapel, more symbolic in nature and another in front of the vault roof which in fact is an overhead water tank. The second tower was deliberately given a certain mass to give it a significance of a typical church spire.

Shanti Sadan By Between Spaces - Sheet10
©Between Spaces

The entire southern façade has an apron of intricate lacing of bricks. The brick screen shields the habitable spaces from the southern sun and gives a very sublime visual experience on arrival. The brick screen wraps around the chapel defining the passage leading to the sacristy which would enable the priests to get ready before entering the chapel. The entire construction is load bearing, which helped in a significant saving on the cost of concrete and steel.

Our approach to this project was to understand the semiotics associated with religious architecture and separate it from the pervasive image of what architectural forms and shapes define a specific religion.

Captions for photos

  1. The Southern Façade with its apron of brick lacing.
  2. The entrance with the church spire like water tank tower.
  3. Brick screens that around the entrance foyer.
  4. The two towers punctuate the otherwise grounded mass.
  5. Intricately laced brick jail screens.
  6. The chapel and its landscaped courtyard detached from the wo storied mass.
  7. Passage to the Sacristy.
  8. Aerial View showing the vault roof and and towers
  9. The two towers.
  10. Natural light filtering into the chapel.
  11. Linear corridor with dormitories to the right.
  12. The courtyard that is the buffer between the Chapel and the rest of the everyday worldly spaces.
  13. Corridor overlooking the courtyard below.
  14. The dormitory with its high vaulted roof.

Author Bio/Partners Bio

Divya Ethirajan (Bachelor of Architecture)

Principal & Founding Partner

Divya Ethirajan is the Founding Partner and Principal Architect. She graduated from R.V. College of Engineering, Bangalore. Divya has interned with Arya Architects in Ahmedabad and continued working there post her graduation and thereafter with Hundredhands from 2006 to 2010.

Pramod Jaiswal (Bachelor of Architecture)

Principal & Founding Partner

Pramod Jaiswal is the Founding Partner and Principal Architect. Pramod graduated from Bangalore Institute of Technology, Bangalore. He trained under V.K. Giridhar and worked with Hundred hands from 2005 to 2011. At Hundredhands, he has worked on some of the award-winning projects and competition projects.


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