Impacting through design

Two structures were ingeniously crafted in order to address the needs of the two most vulnerable segments of the population, urban slum children and senior citizens

Updated - January 20, 2024 02:50 pm IST

Published - January 19, 2024 06:34 pm IST

A classroom and a corridor of the redesigned school.

A classroom and a corridor of the redesigned school. | Photo Credit: YV Architects

Any built space comes with two key expectations — comfort and functionality. The design opted to construct the space determines the functional characteristics. The same design can also positively or negatively impact the comfort exuded by the space and, in turn, the productivity as well as the emotional quotient while operating out of that space.

Recognising this key role of design, architect V. Vishwanath of YV Architects has ingeniously crafted two structures to address the unique needs of the two most vulnerable segments of the population, the urban slum children and the senior citizens where a sizeable number are financially as well as physically challenged to meet their daily needs.

Building anew

In the year 2018, Vishwanath faced the task of altering the dilapidated structure of a government school in Bengaluru. Running his eye through the spaces, he decided to raze the structure to the ground and rebuild the school with an area of 28,000 sq. ft. on a 7,000 sq. ft. site. The four-storeyed structure with its brick clad facade was then meticulously designed to create a space that would be interactive, usher in plenty of natural light with expansive corridors, where the young students feel the expanse of space even in the small site.

The interior of the home for senior citizens.

The interior of the home for senior citizens. | Photo Credit: YV Architects

Open and interactive

A central sky-lit space going up four storeys was thus keyed in, which serves as the assembly point for the school to host programmes as well as double up as an internal well-lit space to interact during the day and partake in the lunch served. Strategically placed hot-air vents ensure the interiors are naturally cool. “This central courtyard of 2,000 sq. ft. literally serves as the spine, connecting visually across the four floors while giving a sense of openness to the interactive zone and the offices and kitchen that enclose it at ground level,” says Vishwanath.

Every floor comes with a set of neatly designed toilets for both genders, addressing a key problem that many government schools face. Each of the classrooms is designed based on the age group of the students using the space, with copious natural light and ventilation seeping in through the large openings and the right orientation.

Age relevance

The interiors also come with sensitive designs to meet the needs of the students, such as metal wires on the ceiling to display each student’s project and artwork, scribble boards on the lower segment of the walls for younger children, the seating and tables specifically designed to cater to the relevant age group occupying each classroom. At the kindergarten, the walls display paintings of nature, birds and animals to capture the curiosity of the children while serving as a visual learning tool.

Besides the classrooms, the four-floor structure packs an auditorium with 150 seating capacity, a music room, a library, and a skill centre. While the large openings limit power consumption, the building goes further green by having 50 per cent of its power consumption met by solar power.

Observing the design details of the new building, K.S. Vinodha, Headmistress of the Rotary Bangalore Orchards Government Primary School, stated, “The precincts are so functional, energetic, with well lit, well-ventilated spacious rooms that the children are happy attending school as compared to the situation in the older building. The faculty likewise find the spaces equally stress-free and motivating, as evinced in their productivity as well as happiness quotient.”

Sensitivity is the key

Says Vishwanath, “The manner in which spaces are designed can totally transform the mind, and this was again seen in the senior living project, Rotary Orchards Chaitanya Senior Citizens’ Home that we designed where we structured the spaces sensitively keeping in perspective both the functional and emotional needs of the senior citizens.” Built on a little over a half-acre site, the three-storeyed building, with its stone-clad façade, lush green exteriors and waterbody, comes with an open plan at ground level with a large skylight built into the centre.

Free flowing and expansive

The sky-lit courtyard houses a temple with expansive corridors surrounding it, which permits inmates to sit back, meditate, and partake in the cultural events that unfold every evening. Large openings and windows in the free-flowing gathering space usher in copious amounts of natural light and ventilation, energising the interior, while the expansive space allows free movement, interaction, and recreation, as well as a vent to connect with the exteriors while being inside. The presence of the central sky-lit courtyard further permits visual connectivity and interaction with the three levels above, whose large corridors overlook the temple.

The individual rooms and large dormitories feature on the three upper floors, where the interiors and the large washrooms are meticulously designed to meet the unique needs of the users. The rooms and dormitories are not only strategically punctured with windows to let in abundant natural light and ventilation, but a step-out deck too prevails to permit physical connection with the exteriors.

Fusing in the greens

These sentiments are further carried in the design of the dining space, which is open to connect amply with the exterior greens. Likewise, a circular outdoor gathering space with ample seating facilitates outdoor interaction for the residents in the evenings amidst the abundant presence of greens. A step-out terrace overlooking the greens further offers a large space for yoga in the mornings, which later doubles up as a space for physiotherapy.

“Greenery, visual and physical connect with the exteriors positively impacts the emotional wellness,” points Vishwanath. Besides the infusion of the outdoors and greens into the interiors, each floor is designed to attend swiftly to emergencies, with nursing stations fused in where they are visually connected to the rooms and dormitories across the corridors.

“Even if the site is small, it is the sensitive approach to design that ensures the physical, emotional, medical, as well as recreational requirements of the residents are successfully met”, points Vishwanath, adding, “Through a sensitive design, the free-flowing expanse of an unhindered space can also be kept intact which is again key to address both comfort and emotional quotient.”

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