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Monday, February 18, 2019

School environs that integrate the vernacular within the contemporary

By Vinita Wagh
Photography& Renders: Courtesy Creative Group
Read Time: 2 mins
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Taking strong cues from sustainable design strategies and the palpable context, Creative Group Architects designs the Gems International School at Kochi to craft an enriching educational experience.

Located on an 8.3-acre campus in the heart of the smart city, the school, through its environment, endeavours to instil the spirit of learning and rediscovery. While the architectural vernacular of Kerala finds its way in the sloping roofs, local materials, design features and traditional technology that is especially relevant in this hot and humid climate, the spatial layout indulges in spaces and forms that harmonise with the natural elements and the environs.

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The design reciprocates the contours of the site that flatten towards the river and capitalises on its beautiful view. Vistas to the riverfront guide the N-S orientation of the structures on campus, maximizing daylight, while reducing glare and heat gain by mutual shading. Though segregated by age-group and functions, the academic blocks interconnect through passages, walkways and bridges - shading movement; and with their variation breaking the routine of circulation patterns. 

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The unbuilt space flows fluidly, meandering between the built masses, translating into free-flowing interiors and circulation spaces. Convection currents from the surrounds move through the central carved out volume to cool the spaces within. Communal spaces transpire into classrooms and learning spaces that feast on the adjacent panoramic view.

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Fa├žade screens introduce traditional jaali work that cut glare, protect the building and create changing patterns on blank walls, throughout the day. A vertical extension of the courtyards, they lift the functional and aesthetic value of spaces.

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The careful placement of sports areas caters to multi-utility. Tennis courts at one end create a no-distraction zone and the basketball court doubles as an assembly space. A timber trail through the site adds a fun element.

With a special focus given to pedestrian movement and interaction between students, spaces and their uses, the design of the school is a poignant expression that hinges on experience – one that is welcoming, diverse, unconventional and sensory.

Fact File:
Project: GEMS School
Client:  Premier Education Establishments Pvt. Ltd
Architect Firm: Creative Group, New Delhi
Founding Principal: Prof. Charanjit Shah
Principal Architect: Ar. Gurpreet Shah
Design Team: Prof. Charanjit Shah, Ar. Gurpreet Shah, Ar. Navneet Malhotra and Ar. Chetan Nagpal
Site Area:  8.3 acres 
Built Up Area: 32,374 sq. m.
Location: Kochi, Kerala 

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