The design process began with the question – ‘How can one conceive a school that provides formal education and inculcates the universal principles within the students?’
Since a school is where the kid learns about the outside world, it becomes quite important how the architecture that surrounds helps in moulding the youth for the future. ‘How can a designer create a balance between learning spaces and play spaces so that the overall growth of a child is ensured?’ Having two distinct playgrounds planned across two floors became our pivot for the design.
Name of the Project : Learning Around the Playground (African Urban School – A New Center For Enko Education)
Name of the Design Firm : theglassbox collective
Names of the Principals : Harin Naik, Harit Naik, Antorip Choudhury, Ashish Dalal
Typology : Institutional
Location : Bamako, Africa
Built up Area : 6,500 sq.mts.
Design Team : Antorip Choudhury, Ashish Dalal
Unbuilt Project Type : International Design Competition
Organiser : Enko Education
Rank : Finalist
The built mass thus ends up encircling the playgrounds creating a courtyard architecture. The height of the school because of the diverse program and the North-South orientation of the site ensures that the grounds are mostly shaded throughout the day thus creating a micro-climate that is cooler in this hot and humid context. As one enters the premises they’re welcomed by a tree that symbolizes ‘Knowledge’ at the centre of the reception along with the administrative spaces, kindergarten and the canteen overlooking the ground. The nursery spaces are designed around a smaller extension of the playground that connects the playground above through a slide.
The idea stretched from the thought that most early schools were organised around a tree in the open rather than closed rooms. This promotes outdoor activity-based learning for the kids where they are free to move in and out of their classrooms. The primary and the secondary classrooms take up the upper floors. The non-classroom spaces such as the library and labs are further worked out in such a way that there is proper connectivity. The diverse program led to a thick and long walls. Large openings are created in the facade to ensure proper cross-ventilation. The classrooms are designed keeping in mind the principles of passive cooling. This helps to keep the internal temperature low through thermal mass and cross ventilation. All the rooms are accompanied by a clerestory window overlooking the corridor to ensure ample daylight and ventilation. Cross-ventilation is ensured through the corridor side’s clear storey and the exterior’s perforated opening. They create a stack effect ensuring the continuous movement of air through the rooms. Deep recessed windows allow flexible louvred shutters to blind the heat. This also allows storage units to be planned inside the alcoves which further delays the heat gain throughout the day.
Locally fabricated compressed earth blocks with mud plaster along with recycling the ancillary materials are used. A filler slab with locally procured earthen pots makes the rooms cooler. This also helps in saving the overall concrete cost and allows the locals to contribute and gives them an ownership towards the school. The rainwater is harvested, stored and recharged in the underground water tank below the playground.
The building is universally accessible by a ramp located at the rear entrance.