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Designing Schools Holistic & Ecological


Sriram Ganapathi

Talking about Buildings for Health, school buildings demand a design strategy to build structures that respond to climate and are naturally ventilated. It is also a pre-requisite that the schools are made barrier-free and visually well connected. Chennai-based KSM Architecture led by KS Money and Sriram Ganpathi is sensitive to these issues and works towards energy efficient and climatically relevant architecture. Buildotech brings to the readers two case studies of schools – Vidya Mandir (VM Estancia, Chennai) and Educomp School, Coimbatore – designed by the KSM team.

K S Money

The school building of Vidya Mandir, one of the leading educational institutions of Chennai, is set on a two-acre site in the periphery of Chennai. It is a part of a 26acre property of a large Information Technology company that needed to build a High School in its premises for the children of its employees. It faces West and is adjoining an open space to the South that is used as a play area for the school. The school was envisioned as a non-air-conditioned school that is energy efficient, cost efficient and easy to maintain over the years. The school is to house 1,100 students and there needs to be enough free space for them to move around, especially at school arrival or leaving times. The client brief demanded the access to play areas and open spaces to be easy, convenient and accessible to the differently-abled as well.

Block Orientation

The design strategy focuses on a building that would respond to the hot and humid climate of Chennai. Though the weather is hot and humid all through the year, there is cool sea breeze that flows across the city from south and south-east directions – the idea was to harness this natural element. The design approach was to build a naturally ventilated school by harnessing this natural element by using deep verandas of varying volumes which act as wind tunnels and covered walkways. The building is enveloped by a perforated screen wall that protects it from the sun and glare.

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