The expansion block of Dr Dhaval Rajnikant Mehta primary school is a representation of the age-old Indian custom of learning beneath a tree in the village centre. The majority of the people living in the industrial town of Shapar are factory employees earning daily wages from various Indian states. Due to the nature of their parents’ work, youngsters frequently drop out of school and end up caring for and feeding their younger siblings.

Project Name: School under a Neem
Office Name: Dhulia Architecture Design
Office Website:
Firm Location: Rajkot, Gujarat
Project Completion Year: 2023
Gross Built Area (m2/ ft2): 340 m2
Project Location: Shapar, Gujarat
Program / Use / Building Function: Institution
Lead Architects: Komal Dhulia
Photo Credits:    Umang Shah Photography
Project Team: Ravi Badrakiya, Savan Kanani
Structural Consultant: Manish Doshi Office

School under a Neem by Dhulia Architecture Design - Sheet3
©Umang Shah Photography

Nonetheless, due to excellent schooling and free midday meals, this school has many more pupils than the facilities it possesses. This encouraged parents to send their children to school and take an interest in their education.

The main structure is located at one end of the complex. On the eastern side, there are a few randomly located buildings, and a lovely neem tree appears to be the centre of gravity holding everything together from a distance. Many activities, such as midday meals, sports, and extracurricular, are staged in the ground around it.

School under a Neem by Dhulia Architecture Design - Sheet7
©Umang Shah Photography

As a respect to the long history, we situated the school just beneath the neem tree. The expansion block has three classrooms on the top and three on the bottom, with the exception of the inside walls, and a straightforward, conventional floor design. In the future, three additional classrooms might be added by erecting two partitions to the bottom level, which is now left open to serve as a prayer hall.

We attempted to use simple concepts and techniques to create dynamic places despite the space and financial constraints. The openings of the structure are intended to frame the outside while having a fascinating play of light. This compositions of openings on the front facade, create a strong link between the building’s users and the trees on the site.

School under a Neem by Dhulia Architecture Design - Sheet9
©Umang Shah Photography

The earthy colour of the structure makes the white walls of the facade stand out. The main colours on the jamb showcase the campus like a picture frame on a wall while the greys frame the exterior white walls. The neem tree is framed by a yellow coloured circular opening as a manifestation of the initial concept.

The window and door provide interesting elements that engage the children. A little chalkboard attached to the doors serves as a blank canvas on which children can depict their identity and number their classes. The windows feature a spinning yellow rectangle, which becomes a fun element. Glass used in doors and windows ensures constant lighting inside. On the earthy corridor walls, all of these provide a few bright contrasts.


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