Written: Salonee & Elakkiya | Illustration: Anoushka | Edited: Sanjay Jain

“The mind of the child is always alert, restless and eager to receive first-hand knowledge from mother nature. Children should be surrounded with the things of nature which have their own educational value. Their minds should be allowed to stumble upon and be surprised at everything that happens in life” – Rabindranath Tagore

According to both tradition and history, the Indian education system never bound us to our desks. Be it during the time of Nalanda or Shantiniketan, the focus was always on the moral, physical, spiritual, intellectual and artistic aspects of life rather than on didactic education. We, at Team TR, made a conscious decision to design for an upcoming educational institution by reintegrating Indian culture with the existing systems of education, i.e., by returning to our roots.

An emphasis was laid on tactile, experiential and collaborative learning for students ranging from kindergarteners to senior secondary pupils. The idea of sensorial learning was explored as well, i.e., learning via exposing a child’s sense of sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing to various stimuli. The practice of seniors teaching juniors or vertical teaching would serve to build self confidence amongst students as well as instill the spirit of teamwork.

To this end, the built forms were designed with gardens and courtyards on either side, permitting the ground floor to become completely permeable when opened up. The open spaces were multipurpose, catering to theatrical performances, games, yoga, open air competitions and so on. They also welcomed festivals and celebrations integral to Indian culture. Exposure to heritage at a young age instills an appreciation for the same and helps build a sense of brotherhood.

The building wrapped partially around a central courtyard, creating a secluded play area for kindergarteners. The sensory gardens, flowing along the outer curves of the built form, were meant to encourage children to learn about local contexts, climate and geography by growing by hand.