Anupama Kundoo creates a nurturing space for children with Sharana Daycare Facility

Kundoo, a forerunner for ecologically responsive and modest architecture, has built a comfortable abode for socio-economically disadvantaged children in Pondicherry, India.

by Meghna Mehta Published on : Sep 23, 2020

Indian architect Anupama Kundoo is known for her energy efficient projects, sustainable architecture and design approach that focuses on material research that reduces the impact on environment. She started as an architect in 1990s in Auroville, a township in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where she built many notable structures celebrating sustainable design including her residence, the Wall House. Further she moved to Australia and then Europe to teach, curate and build examples of ecologically conscious architecture. Currently, Kundoo runs her practice, Anupama Kundoo Architects, from India and Germany.

  • Elevation of the main street façade | Sharana Daycare Facility | Anupama Kundoo Architects | STIRworld
    Elevation of the main street façade Image: Riddhima Gupte, Devashree Bhave
  • Innovative brickwork provides easy ventilation, reduces costs and is ecologically friendly | Sharana Daycare Facility | Anupama Kundoo Architects | STIRworld
    Innovative brickwork provides easy ventilation, reduces costs and is ecologically friendly Image: Javier Callejas

The latest project built by Kundoo is Sharana Daycare Facility in Puducherry (earlier Pondicherry). ‘Sharana’, which literally means ‘shelter’, is a social and development organisation established to address the critical educational needs of socio-economically disadvantaged children and communities in urban Puducherry and its surrounding villages. The facility’s foundational belief is that all human beings are equal in rights and dignity, and everyone is entitled to food, clothing, and shelter.

  • The organisation provides for the educational and holistic needs of socio-economically disadvantaged children | Sharana Daycare Facility | Anupama Kundoo Architects | STIRworld
    The organisation provides for the educational and holistic needs of socio-economically disadvantaged children Image: Javier Callejas
  • The brick wall brings light into the spaces | Sharana Daycare Facility | Anupama Kundoo Architects | STIRworld
    The brick wall brings light into the spaces Image: Javier Callejas

Sharana’s approach to addressing the educational needs of children and communities is thus integrative, comprehensive, and holistic; addressing educational needs involves addressing health, nutrition, hygiene, housing, security, and other family and community needs in parallel. It also enables individuals to become autonomous, active and contributing members of society.

  • The section across the street façade | Sharana Daycare Facility | Anupama Kundoo Architects | STIRworld
    The section across the street façade Image: Riddhima Gupte, Devashree Bhave
  • The building has been designed to offer a welcoming appearance in the busy neighbourhood of Puducherry | Sharana Daycare Facility | Anupama Kundoo Architects | STIRworld
    The building has been designed to offer a welcoming appearance in the busy neighbourhood of Puducherry Image: Javier Callejas

Talking about the new structure set in the residential area of the rapidly urbanising Puducherry city, Kundoo says, “The new building for the non-profit organisation has mainly been designed to create a welcoming place to nurture socio-economically disadvantaged children to fully claim their rights to education by developing social programmes, building physical infrastructure, and identifying sources of financial support”.

  • The inner green courtyard which is central to the spaces | Sharana Daycare Facility | Anupama Kundoo Architects | STIRworld
    The inner green courtyard which is central to the spaces Image: Javier Callejas
  • The section along the lateral façade | Sharana Daycare Facility | Anupama Kundoo Architects | STIRworld
    The section along the lateral façade Image: Courtesy of Riddhima Gupte, Devashree Bhave

The architecture revolves around a central strip of an inner garden court with the large multipurpose activity spaces on the rear side of the site, while the reception and administration services are based toward the front, along the street. To achieve high standard of architecture and in affordable means, the building has been constructed using reinforced cement concrete slabs on columns, made out of the same material.

The use of porous elements brings transparency and inclusivity | Sharana Daycare Facility | Anupama Kundoo Architects | STIRworld
The use of porous elements brings transparency and inclusivity Image: Javier Callejas

To enclose the various spaces economically, walls have been built out of porous terracotta screen modules that are easy and quick to erect and eliminate the need for windows and frames. This allows ventilation throughout the wall surface while maintaining the climatic comfort in the tropical context with minimal costs. These screen wall elements allow transparency from floor upwards, allowing small children to remain in contact with the garden outdoors. “The porous elements convey transparency and inclusiveness as per the aims of the institute, and practically require no additional finishes like plasters and paints as required in regular masonry, further minimising maintenance,” mentions Kundoo.

  • The ground floor plan | Sharana Daycare Facility | Anupama Kundoo Architects | STIRworld
    Ground floor plan Image: Riddhima Gupte, Devashree Bhave
  • The first floor plan | Sharana Daycare Facility | Anupama Kundoo Architects | STIRworld
    First floor plan Image: Riddhima Gupte, Devashree Bhave
  • The second floor plan | Sharana Daycare Facility | Anupama Kundoo Architects | STIRworld
    Second floor plan Image: Riddhima Gupte, Devashree Bhave
  • The Roof plan | Sharana Daycare Facility | Anupama Kundoo Architects | STIRworld
    Roof plan Image: Riddhima Gupte, Devashree Bhave

In order to give the activity rooms their own identity and a sense of enclosure, and to break the monotony of long corridors, the geometry of angular walls as composition elements has been the ‘principle of order’ followed throughout. This feature gives the corridor and entrance areas a sense of enclosure, identity and a sense of intimacy appropriate to the scale of the children. “These dynamic help children orient easily within the complex, and completely deconstruct the sense of long monotonous corridors. The angular walls have been perceived as embracing and welcoming elements,” adds Kundoo.

  • The roof being used by the children | Sharana Daycare Facility | Anupama Kundoo Architects | STIRworld
    The roof being used by the children Image: Javier Callejas
  • The central green area | Sharana Daycare Facility | Anupama Kundoo Architects | STIRworld
    The central green area Image: Javier Callejas

The architecture of the Sharana Daycare Facility is a gentle reminder of what the presence of architecture means to be. Architecture must be a precursor to the comfort of its users, the vision of the patrons, in tune with ecological impacts and easy to maintain. The architecture that Kundoo has produced here in Puducherry or over the years with other projects, has rarely walked away from these fundamentals and keenly reflect clear intents, concepts and an architecture for all. 

Project Details

Name: Sharana Daycare Facility
Location: Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, India
Year: 2019
Total built up area: 766 sqm
Clients: Sharana, Social Development Organisation, Puducherry
Design firm: Anupama Kundoo Architects
Design team: Anupama Kundoo, Sonali Phadnis, Aditi Deshpande
Structural consultant: Les Premier Construction
Building contractor: Creation Constructions

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