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  • Published 30.03.05

Drawing inspiration from video footage of a classic Sunny Gavaskar ton at the specially-landscaped Footprint Area. Casting the gaze back to the roots inside the centrally air-conditioned modular heritage centre inspired by Charles Correa?s Gandhi Museum in Ahmedabad. Or simply looking out of the classroom into the interactive central atrium?

For the young minds at the Pailan World School (PWS) in Joka, set to roll out its maiden academic session next month, textbook education will have an inspiring ally in architecture.

?Built form has a direct impact on teaching and nondescript architecture can?t motivate the mind. At PWS, we have consciously tried to create a conducive academic environment through sensitive built forms,? says architect Mukul Mittra of Shelter, the agency behind the design solution of the giant school, coming up in collaboration with global major GEMS Education, the academic consultant.

Describing Shelter?s inputs as the ?first focused effort in education architecture? in the city, Mittra says special emphasis has been laid on developing the internal spaces for interaction.

A central atrium, with a translucent shell, marks the spine of both the junior and senior school buildings, to encourage dialogue and create a relaxing ambience, while open terraces are provided for outdoor classes.

The Heritage Centre, meant for informal education, is designed in a modular system, where spaces are inter-linked by sliding doors and open onto a semi-covered courtyard with louvres and pergolas, creating an intricate pattern of light and shade. ?The concept has its inception in Correa?s Gandhi Museum and also draws from the Japanese style of home design, where one can slide away doors to create space. The built form here encourages Indianness and openness,? says Mittra, assisted in the project by son Saugata.

While the large, Harrow-style glass-fronted dining halls look on to the sprawling playground, the hostel blocks are designed on a courtyard concept. The Footprint Area has been conceptualised as a well to derive inspiration from. Famous living personalities will be invited to leave their hand imprints and there?ll be a miniature theatre offering audio-visual presentations on legends ?to light the fire in their belly?.

Designed in totality prior to construction, the PWS campus blueprint incorporates minute details that enhance the education environment, claims the Shelter team that has worked on the project. ?For instance, the staircase elevation in the junior school is just four inches and the toilets are specially designed for children. We feel the time has come for educationists to demand special architecture for their institutions. A school building shouldn?t be just rows of classrooms and dull corridors,? stresses architect Mittra.