by Anupama Kundoo Nov 28, 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
Name: Sharana Daycare Facility
Location: Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, India
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