by Meghna MehtaJan 27, 2020
Mumbai-based architecture studio NUDES has designed a school in Pune, India that explores the relationship between nature and pedagogy in dense urban settlements built on the foundation of ‘grow’, ‘learn’, ‘re-use’, ‘plant’ and ‘play’. Titled ‘Forest’, the project by Nuru Karim-led firm won the competition for the design of a new school in the city that has witnessed rapid growth in the last three decades.
‘Forest’ comprises two ‘green’ cylindrical volumes brought together by an ‘infinity’ or 8-shaped rooftop loop track. Occupying a site of approximately 2.5 acres, the school building occupies the front end of a rectangular linear plot with an open space created for play and sport towards the rear. The entire built-up construction of the school is approximately 11,612 sqm and houses learning environments from early childhood education to Grade 12.
The project addresses architecture's role to address gaps within urban infrastructure. – Nuru Karim
To compensate for the urban density of the city of Pune in Maharashtra, where recreational spaces are scarce, the 8-shaped ‘loop’ has been designed on the roof as a bicycle track. Apart from its main function, the ‘loop’ can be used for varied activities such as workshops, student exhibitions, student-led markets and other events. “Point in case, the 8-shaped loop cycle track was a result of our conservation with the stakeholders who spoke about gaps in the city’s infrastructure such as safe pedestrian walkways, universal accessibility, cycle tracks etc. We are hoping that the school addresses the larger needs of the community,” says Nuru Karim.
The cylindrical volumes have been designed in such a way that they can be built through stages of phased construction with planned programmatic activities. The project is an attempt to create an energetic, dynamic and vibrant space for student-centric interaction and learning. On the ground floor, the central atrium pierces through the building section bringing light from the roof, creating a social space that allows for natural ventilation across all the learning spaces.
“The Forest is conceptualised to be an institution that promotes hands-on learning, green learning opportunities, networked communities, experimental learning with improvement in air quality and student health. It also works towards passive cooling, sensitivity towards climate change and global warming and garnering social responsibilities,” shares Karim.
The ‘live’ skin of the curved elevation is defined by a series of uniform protrusions and the lush vegetation that occupies them. This element of the project has been designed to create breathers and buffer zones that would improve air quality and overall well-being of the students. These external ‘green’ spaces can be serviced and maintained by a peripheral service track accessible from both landing and mid-landing levels on every floor by horticulturists.
The Forest school presents an opportunity to re-think institutions of today in order to reduce the impact of climate change and make the world green, clean and sustainable.