At Ekya Early years Pre-school, the educational experience is focused towards developing a sense of curiosity and inquisitiveness in a child. In sync with this philosophy, Bangalore based architectural firam Collective Project designed an exclusive Montessori and Kindergarten environment for the school campus. The design team comprising of designers Eliza Higgins, Ajantha S and Grégoire Rossignol was led by architect Cyrus Patell.
The preschool located at Kanakapura Road in Bangalore capitalizes on the beauty of an old industrial building, altering the existing shell into a naturally ventilated and sunlight filled classrooms. The 25,000sqft campus was completed in mid- 2014 and the design scope included architectural renovation, interiors and landscaping.
Ekya Early Years: Kanakapura Road reconceives an abandoned watch factory and overgrown two acre site into a lush, colorful and immersive environment for learning. The primary goal of this project was to provide a constant interaction between students and nature; a design requirement of the Montessori brief and an ever rarer experience within the rapidly growing city.
To promote interactive model of learning and a constant interaction between children and nature, the designers consciously blurred the the boundaries between inside and outside. Thus, all learning environments (classrooms) are accessed from a covered walkway circumnavigating a densely planted “Jungle” courtyard.
Four controlled access points open to the exterior landscape conceived in a “pinwheel” formation from the central courtyard. Recreational/ Learning landscape features including an outdoor art room, amphitheater, playground, sandpit, labyrinth,and individual classroom gardens radiate around the existing building footprint allowing for easy access, supervision and maintenance.
Adaptive reuse of an existing structure without losing its essence is a complex process in itself. In addition, the architects faced the challenged of redesigning the spaces keeping in view the child psychology and ergonomics. However, at the end the project successfully combines the fun element and the technical parameters without losing the sensitivity to site and the original structure.
The school is striking in its design due to the innovative use of vibrant colours on the exteriors and interiors which incidentally stimulate children vision and activity. Not only, the strategic and consistent use of color establishes a stimulating and playful identity for the campus but it also acts as a visual connective tissue throughout the children’s daily experience.
A soft gradient of coloured louvers highlight the covered office and student entrances. This gradient then changes frequency around the central courtyard walkway providing a single colour-code for each room. The same identifying colours continue inside each classroom to highlight special library reading niches and primary teaching surfaces.
This project is the first stand-alone Montessori school for the Ekya Early Years brand and the prototype for future locations. The program includes a full office/reception suite, 13 learning environments (classrooms), art room, AV room, flexible common areas and outdoor recreation/learning spaces.
One of the major challenges of this project was stabilizing the existing building, which was in major disrepair, so that it was suitable for a school. Due to cost and major structural constraints, the existing building frame and shell were left intact though exceptions were made to create additional links between interior and exterior spaces and to highlight the main entrances. Within this predefined framework, playful architectural interventions occur at the children’s scale, creating reading nooks between classrooms, formal/impromptu seating areas and sculpted terrain.