The project is located in Kerala-India, known as 'Gods Own Country', with nature at its best. The Client desires an International School planned in 2.6 Hectare land of which 1.8 Hectare is close to 1 in 2 sloped terrain and 0.8 Hectare is flat terrain. An innovative design was introduced by us, with only 40% footprint and effective 80% open space+ playground, which accommodated client’s current and future requirements and released 1.2 Hectare of land which was intended for future villa development.
Our design brings to life Unique Concepts of “TRANSFORM WITH NATURE” and “ENGAGE WITH SOCIETY” -core to education, but often ignored. A study of region revealed presence of many families of non-resident Indians. Analysis exposed deprived religious schools, social isolation and inactive lifestyle due to lack of common social platforms– this uncovered crucial design parameters.
Our master plan positioned a 15,000SqM secondary school in area earmarked for playground. Constraints posed by topography are creatively designed to house a playground over roof of school building, with multi-layer protection and merging with terrain –thus minimizing land consumption and disturbance. This saved 0.8 Hectares of land and contributed to project feasibility.
Viewing galleries are planned in natural terrain and connected to playground. Steep terrain next to gallery is divided into farming strips for each grade. This concept helps nurture next generation in a 'Close to Nature' environment, revives the historically strong agriculture industry and supports Kerala’s green drive to escape from high food imports.
Roads / walkways at each floor level, tucked under gallery pergola enables shaded boarding and easy commuting. Driveways away from entry with solar re-charge option become bus parking. This, along with the unique design of indoor courtyard Auditorium and roof playground, saves the client the land earmarked for future Villa development. Rainwater from playground, gallery and uphill area is harvested in pools and fish pond and re-used for agriculture by gravity flow.
Accommodation building is planned towards uphill side with roof polyhouse for organic vegetables. The playground is connected to accommodation building roof through bridge, thus completing 100 m running track.
23 villas are proposed within the development, on upper side with roads and levels carefully managed to allow roof entry for lower villas and ground entry for upper villas. Vision lines are designed to have clear view to playground and infinity beyond, while ensuring privacy for residential area and promoting social interaction and inclusion after school hours. A Club House and Swimming pool is introduced into the design allowing multiple level access and phased use by students and residents.
TRANSFORMATION : The site and surroundings reveal hues of reddish laterite soil and rich greenery during different seasons. Culturally, Kerala is known for its traditional colourful art forms and love for associated colours namely Orange, Yellow and shades of Greens. The concept of 'Transform with Nature' translates to dynamic building that merges with nature with special camouflaging shading features made of local materials. Students become 'change agents' by actively interacting with building, which connects them to nature and transition between interior and exterior becomes invisible. Observation of dynamic nature becomes a habit, encouraging self-discovered knowledge.
The shading elements can be slid and rotated 180 degrees based on lighting, ventilation and temperature comfort, keeping percentage open area flexible for perfect internal comfort. Simple turning of these multicolored shading elements change exterior and interior hues, embrace 'Seasonal Changes', climate and creativity and set ‘Transformation’ as the School’s corporate identity. The school building is conceived with a central courtyard, a key feature in traditional Kerala Architecture with a ceiling resembling sky with stars by natural fiber optic spot lights, thus creating a unique auditorium. The open end of vertical planted courtyard receives strips of water guided though fiber optic cables to a reflecting fish pond which naturally cools air entering auditorium cum indoor sport area.
Horizontal planted voids equal in area to roof invite North West and South West winds and tactfully achieve same illumination and ventilation as in top open courtyards, while avoiding the mid-day sun, glare and rain. Walls of these voids provide reflective surface for display of student's works. Natural fiber optic lighting illuminates the courtyard, flexible learning spaces and circulation, minimizing artificial lighting. Wind funnel effect is used in vertical plane, allowing forced air flow below top roof playground. The modular informal flexible learning spaces are created using slide up acoustic partitions at naturally conditioned courtyard side. When lifted up, this area with circulation visually combines with auditorium and transforms to a massive learning space for viewing futuristic hologram projections and laser shows. Fringes of these spaces are planned as student's museum for collection of old artefacts. The southern pergola space with solar panels becomes an informal interaction space with others allowing views to auditorium activities.
The school design aims to integrate education with community activity and local tourism through introduction of innovative flexible multi-purpose learning and exhibit spaces. The tactful design of sports facility, its open access and the villa development in same campus, transforms the development into a sports and recreation centre, as well. While most schools remain deserted after school hours and during holidays, the incorporation of natural gallery, roof sports and convertible learning spaces transforms this school into a museum, sports centre, residential recreation area, community green space and tourist attraction.
Arkind’s designs have won International Accolades and Awards in the categories of Environmental Design, Tourism & Leisure Led Developments, Educational Buildings, Community Culture and Tourism Developments.
Working on projects across countries of diverse scale with varying character, functional brief, climatic and geographic conditions, socio-economic strata, culture and history, construction technology, urban fabric, laws, development control and regulations has given Arkind the privilege of viewing the profession in a wider spectrum. Arkind works on a TQM mode with Environment sensitive and Life Cycle Design based approach.
Arkind Consultants is led by Mr. Mathews George one of the few Chartered Town planners in India with over 25 years experience and Arkind Architects is led by Ar. Deepa Mathai an RIBA Chartered Architect and Fellow of Indian Institute of Architects with her 20 years of experience.