Environment Friendly Architecture

Sahyadri School: Master Planning

Sahyadri school is a residential school run under Krishnamurti Foundation of India (KFI) situated in Khed taluka, and is about two hours away from Pune city. Established in 1994, it is spread over 70 acres of land on a scenic hill top. A master planning exercise is envisaged for this already running school to look at the campus with a fresh perspective and to generate a better understanding of the surrounding ecosystem. Hunnarshala has been commissioned for this along with the architectural design of a few of the newly proposed buildings. Master planning as a general understanding is seen only as a map showing locations for various possible buildings and the infrastructure serving them. However, a more holistic approach is proposed for this master planning exercise for the school, looking at it as a complete ecosystem, and not only at the human environ.

The master plan is being imagined not just as a series of several maps, but also as a document that can be seen as:

  • An operating manual for the campus
  • Records histories along with collectively imagined future for the school
  • Becomes part of the curriculum itself, and
  • Drives the ecosystem to maximum possible resource sustainability

This naturally involves a detailed study of the campus and the surrounding areas. To begin with, three fields have been selected, study of flora and fauna habitats in and around the campus, geological and hydrogeological study of the campus, and the study of existing traditional building crafts and artisans in the region. Kalpvriksha and ACWADAM, two Pune based organisations are helping with the detailed studies and appropriate recommendations. Kalpvriksha is involved with the study of flora and fauna, whereas ACWADAM is looking at hydrogeology and water.

Based on these studies and interpretations, a structure for the master plan has been developed. The major focus for this structure is to derive the percentage of sustainability that the school can achieve from the available potential of resources on its own campus. The structure can broadly be divided into the following three categories with natural inter-linkages:

  • Natural Habitat
  • Built Habitat
  • Sustainable Building-Craft Vocabulary

The natural habitat as well as the building vocabulary feed the built habitat, whereas the surrounding habitat (nearby villages), form support pathways to these. This becomes another major objective of the master planning exercise, that is:

  • Outreach and building connections of the school ecosystem with the neighbouring communities.

The work is still in progress. One preliminary level of studies for flora and the hydrogeology has already been done, whereas an understanding of the available building vocabulary is also listed. Further work involves building an understanding of the fauna, understanding and incorporating the local art and craft in the buildings and campus, as well as adding any further studies to the exercise like that of soil type and cover. A basic structure of the master plan has been put in a flow diagram as follows:

 

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