This outdoor classroom was developed in partnership with Ivar Tutturen and Alexander Furunes for an Indian charity ‘Nanhi Dunya’. Founded in 1960, the charity currently runs twelve schools, primarily for children who come from economically deprived backgrounds, including those with special needs. The schools, which collectively serve over a thousand children, are located in impoverished areas in and around Dehradun, and families contribute what they can afford in order for children to attend. Whilst this ensures inclusion for all, it means that the organisation is financially stretched, and its infrastructure is under pressure.
Having conducted extensive research into the needs of each of the schools during a research trip, we and Nanhi Dunya’s Board of Trustees agreed that our project would focus on renovating and improving a single school, Chander Nagar, with the aim of developing a design strategy that could be applied to the others in the future. The ambition was not only to renovate Chander Nagar physically, but to revive the spirit of the organisation as a whole, and help ensure its long-term sustainability.
The result of the 4-month project was a light-weight structure known as the Chander Nagar ‘Rangshala’ – a hindi term deriving from the words ‘rang’ (colour) and ‘shala’ (school). The space is used as a multifunctional classroom, specifically for crafts and other hands-on activities, that is open to the wider community as well as the school children. Enclosed with timber slats, but otherwise open to the surrounding playground, the rangshala is a well-ventilated space that is cool, shaded and dry during the hot and rainy season; during the winter months, when the interior air temperature of the existing classrooms is very cold, the rangshala is warm and sunny.
The structure was designed and built collaboratively with the local community, skilled craftsmen, a local contractor, three UK engineers, and a team of students participating in an NTNU / AA Visiting School workshop. A book about the project has been published on Issuu.