By Pari Syal
Photography: Shamanth Patil J; courtesy the architects
Winners of the DPS Kindergarten School in the ‘Shops’ category at the Inside Festival in Singapore, Khosla Associates, Bengaluru, India, once again weave an architectural vocabulary with strong contextual references; without compromising on contemporary design sensibility.
A franchise for a popular north Indian school chain, the kindergarten school was to be modeled along a simple and cost effective design vocabulary that could be easily replicated, adapting to different site conditions with slight programmatic variations.
The primary challenge was to design and complete construction of the first 35,000 sq. ft. kindergarten block within 6-months at a cost-efficient Rs.1200/sq. ft. and the efficiencies of designing and constructing a building so rapidly had to be balanced with the firm’s signatory warmth and timeless appeal.
They set out to accomplish this by creating an efficient modular system that would serve as building blocks. Addressing a basic module of a 700 sq. ft classroom (35ft x 20 ft.) that could be repeated horizontally, or stacked one atop the other, the classrooms on either side flank an 8ft wide single-loaded corridor and open up to a central open-to-sky courtyard that runs the entire length of the building. As the soul of the school, the courtyard allows for open-to-sky discussions – idyllic in Bengaluru’s temperate climate.
The simplicity of the repetitive exposed concrete structure eventually dictates the design outcome as flexible layers are added onto it. A corrugated metal wall in all corridors enhances the natural beauty of the structure, playing with pattern and dotted with tropical colours typical of the vernacular architecture of the region.
Culling an honest approach by maximizing on natural daylight; effectively harnessing breezes; and judging the sun’s directions, they’ve played with a number of devices: horizontal and vertical pergolas and a combination of two different patterns of jaali (shading and ventilation screens used traditionally in India) on the exterior that creates interesting chiaroscuro patterns on the building at different times of the day.
Other contextual references lie in vernacular terracotta jaalis that wrap around parts of the building and are included on both sides of each classroom to facilitate adequate cross ventilation.
While the overall master plan currently under construction will eventually cater to 4000 children; the current kindergarten facility has 25 classrooms to accommodate 40 children each.