By Savitha Hira
|Use of asymmetric arches and lopsided vaults in elevation.|
IAnD and Mumbai-based Ar. Samira Rathod open to debate an exploration of design – the asymmetrical brick arch and its feasibility factors…
A beatific four-acre chickoo orchard, lush foliage, meandering pathways, quietude, and a lofty ideal of building a school manifesting green building principles, giving back to the earth a little of the lot we take from it.
|Chikoo grove at Bhadran|
Located in the town of Bhadran, outside of Baroda in Gujarat, India, the design of the school has grown as a series of modular classrooms dancing their way through the trees; encountering alcoves, cracks and crevices, projections, boxes, verandas and bridges – adding to a composition of experiences that weaves varied nuances of the formative years into the fabric of the school.
|Proposed project model|
This ‘dance’ is articulated architecturally by asymmetric arches; an idea evolved from a study of early scribbling patterns of a child.
|The idea of the dancing arch, evolved from early scribbling patterns of a child|
A continuity of this asymmetric brick arch form is experienced as lopsided vaults along the roof. A playful bamboo skin is attached to this modular brick structure. The skin is both, a layer of climatic protection as well as extensions of the verandah on the upper level, bringing the users of the school even closer to the trees on site. The design is summarized thus, as a module, a skin and ‘hide n seek’… the latter reminiscent of most-cherished memories from childhood.
|Modules, skin and 'hide and seek'|
Added to this, is the intent of introducing renowned French painter-sculptor Jean Tinguely-inspired kinetic art installations (dematerialization of art; his sculptures from scrap would come alive with a lesson to remember in an art movement titled Nouveau Réalisme or New Realism that explored new ways of perceiving the real) that will bring alive the realm of knowledge in a fun manner, involving an integral assimilation on behalf of all concerned –staff and students alike.
|A work of Jean Tinguely Photograph: Courtesy World Wide Web|
Sounds apt to the holistic approach that environment and education should be; idealistic in the play of the building construction elements being active participants too. Yet, this project is today waiting to take off from the drawing board despite its pervasive nod-of-approval. Why?
Asymmetric arches, lopsided brick vaults, irregular jack arches and a playful undulated terrace
Well, with arches being lopsided and a brick construction proposed for green measures, the structural integrity of the building as a whole is under the scanner. How does one effectively execute a series of asymmetric arches and jack arches in brick? With some cant (skewed) walls in place? With storage to be relegated as part of these thick walls? With frameless slit windows on pivots?
|Sketch - Frameless Pivot Window|
What kind of structural forces would be at work? With an altogether different set of stresses at play in an asymmetrical arch, would it actually hold for posterity, like its versatile conventional counterparts?
|Typical classroom module and asymmetric brick features.|
And more… have such arches in brick construction been successfully executed before? Where are the knowledgeables, who could throw light on these issues? Would they be open to participating as active workforce on this site?
|Jack arch configuration within a classroom module.|
We invite your views, comments, feedback…