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image Project: Eureka School: AID India

Eureka School: AID India

Narratives


Fun School Zone

The school is located at AID India’s rural development campus off the Tsunami affected coastline of Tamilnadu state, India. It is an alternate school, providing free education for K — 5 students of surrounding villages.

The school developed through a “matrix of values” comprising of the client’s conceptualization of a vibrant school program and our focus on creating transition spaces for interactive learning and green building.

-The school borrows its ‘farm shed’ aesthetics from its rural setting. The school has a linear layout to economize on the double pile reinforced cement concrete foundation necessitated by the site’s clayey soil.

-The school has seven classrooms each of about 204 square feet area . It currently has 62 students enrolled. Students sit on reed floor mats for collaborative group learning activities. Classrooms have murals with stories and games and continuous sill high blackboards for students’ use. Minimal classroom furniture for storage and display is supplied by an on campus carpentry unit.

-The design of the school borrows from local village school types where the verandah is a spontaneous activity zone and thermal buffer given the hot and humid climate.

-We created a variety of transition spaces in the linear spatial matrix of the school. We slid out the school office to create an open pavilion leading to a stage and rear playground and a tree shaded West courtyard. A 90 feet long verandah ranging in width from 4 feet to 10 feet serves as an activity spillover space connecting classrooms.

-The verandah has interactive learning tools such as abacus, globes, measurement scales, games and thinnais (low seating). Students have since appropriated the verandah’s parapet as a climbing wall (requiring us to create ‘safe landing sand strips’). The access ramp of the verandah is a popular evening play spot. Our school team is still struggling to provide vegetative shading for the verandah.

- The school opened in June 2006. Students interacted with artists to choose murals for their classroom interiors, doors and exterior walls as ‘identity markers’.

-The school takes advantage of other campus resources - a library, multipurpose hall, computer and science labs.

We wanted the school building itself to be a learning aid with environmentally sound design.
Our school has the following green building features:

-The school’s orientation with longer sides facing N-S, vegetative shading, innovative double roof construction and insulating wall surfaces laid with rat trap brick bond reduce heat gain.

-Its shallow volume, orientation towards predominant breeze directions of South and South East and openings’ design facilitate cross ventilation.

-Windows and jallis (brick trellises) allow day lighting for class rooms

- Rain water harvesting and installation of photovoltaic panels are proposed with future funding.

-Appropriate construction technology using rat trap brick bond and ferro-cement jack arch shells, recycled packing wood, mild steel tubes and corrugated metal roofing and local sourcing of construction material reduced embodied energy content and eco foot print. We achieved 35% cost reduction compared to conventional construction.

-In terms of equity, women construction workers (who typically perform secondary roles on site) were made in charge of ferro-cement shell casting resulting in fair wages.

A School for Exploration

Background:
The school is situated in Walodai village, Kanchipuram district, Tamilnadu, India . Tamilnadu is an Indian state with more than 98% of children enrolled in primary school. However, the quality of education is a huge problem, with over 50% children in grade V unable to read a simple paragraph in Tamil (the local language). The classroom structure, authoritarian teachers, and a teaching-learning methodology that stresses rote memorization instead of constructive learning are the root causes of the problem.

The School in Walodai was conceived by us, as a model alternative school to show that it is possible to provide quality education to children from rural and low income backgrounds. Apart from using activity-based learning methodologies, it envisioned an atmosphere which would provide the following:

1. Freedom: The school should have a free atmosphere and the attempt is to make children enjoy, not fear, the school.

2. Confidence building: At a young age, what children most need is confidence. Giving children respect as individuals, showcasing their work and building up their confidence will be part of the school culture — even in small things.

3. Exploration Oriented: The school will build on children’s innate curiosity and desire to explore — learning will structured around projects that they can do and present.

Experience
The school, Walodai has been designed for about 150 children from classes I to V, and facilitates these qualities. The school construction was completed in June 2006, and formal commencement of classes began the same month. The school provides sufficient spaces for children to freely engage in meaningful activities. There are 62 students enrolled in Kindergarten and Grade I in 2006-2007.

In each classroom, the lower half of the walls have been painted black, in order to provide children their own writing space. This enables creative expression of the child, and more importantly, affirms the notion that the child has a right to express what s/he wants, as opposed to only writing what the teacher asks her to. The upper portions of the classrooms have been painted with colorful illustrations of stories and simple concepts.

While the rooms have clear separation, the corridor provides continuity and extra space for exploration. The corridor also has puzzles and activities painted on the ground as well as embedded in the side parapet walls, so that learning does not get confined within the classrooms and naturally extends to the connecting spaces. There is also a pavilion that opens to the back of the school, and is used creatively by both teachers and children — from holding common events, displaying craft items, playing and even as a storage place for lunch boxes!

The school building serves as a learning aid. Our school design incorporates green building parameters and the natural setting around the school — small rocks and a tree with a shaded area, irrigation channels etc., have been left undisturbed in order for students to better engage with their surroundings .





Merit Award 2007

Parameswaramangalam

INDIA

Type:
Elementary

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