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News Archive

INTBAU Member's Project Wins Indian Building Congress Award

Deependra Prashad, architect and Chair of INTBAU India, has won the Indian Building Congress Award for Excellence in the Built Enviornment for the Shriram Junior High School in Mawana, Uttar Pradesh.

A small primary school was pre-existing on a sugar industry campus, i.e. the campus of the owners who commissioned the project. This school was lacking in basic infrastructure and a number of industry employees preferred to send their children to schools much farther from their campus homes. The project proposed to develop a new school building through a Shriram School Society, its non-profit arm, as an initiative to infuse a fresh lease of life to the school.

The new school is located adjacent to the old school, close to the workers' homes. This provides children with an easy walk to school, and also allows parents to be more involved in their children's education. Mawana has an extremely variable climate, with dusty winds and extremes of high and low temperatures. The new school was planned to overlook protected courtyards, spaces which also provide a shaded area for the various activities of students. These courtyards work as classroom spillouts, and include sitting spaces, planting, water features and play sculptures. Each courtyard, by shading the airspace inside, contributes to the comfort of the overall microclimate and ventilation.

Temperature and pressure differences in between the courtyards and outdoor spaces help the cooled air circulate into the classrooms, while hot air from the classroom circulates out through high ventilators located at ceiling-level. The courtyards also bring diffused light into the classrooms. As the building work was promoted by a non-profit trust, there were severe cost constraints on the building programme. The school uses strong, locally available materials including exposed clay brick which reduces the cost and maintenance of plastering and paint, while utilizing skilled masons to create arches for openings reducing the requirement of steel. Many of the building's features are developed with brick, including the walls, open arched niches for windows and perforated screens. Local Kota stone and Sandstone is used for hard-paving where required. This approach results in a contextual aesthetic -- a fit between building and place -- and also allowed for an easy construction process using local labour.

The school building allows stormwater to be harvested, which can be used for floor-washing and horticulture and which is accessed from its underground storage tank by a handpump. Natural light is also the chief source of light inside the school, with energy efficient fluorescent lamps installed for use on cloudy or otherwise dim days.

A number of child-friendly elements are included in the design, such as pre-primary runner writing boards at the ground level, accessible shelving for “teaching learning educational material”, display wooden hanging reapers, storytelling corners, arches and ramps as inbuilt play elements, all of which aim to create a stimulating environment encouraging learning through play. The school is also designed for easy access for children with physical or other disabilities.

The school project, built in close proximity to the industrial structures of the sugar industry, uses passive solar design, usage of local materials and resource efficiency to create a strong exemplar in reducing the building’s environmental footprint.  The project itself was developed over a year with stepwise communication between promoters, stakeholders and service designers. A number of role players, including the construction agency, were chosen not as experts in sustainable building, but as a resource of people who have worked locally and also within the said industry. These are the people who would later help take the paradigm of energy efficiency and local craftsmanship into the other functional segments of the industrial campus.