The architects of Bengaluru-based firm Cadence create a school that makes you want to go back to school...
Children like to play, explore and enjoy. This is why, perhaps, they hate being confined to the four classroom walls in their early years. But if the school itself becomes a playful and fun-filled expanse, will children not be motivated to attend them? More so, if the school is like Cassata Primary School, Bengaluru, where the architects have created a perky fairy tale of a learning space. This innovative school has been designed by Cadence, a Bengaluru- based firm comprising of Principal Architects Narendra Pirgal, Smaran Mallesh and Vikram Rajashekar.
¨We thought the best way to design the school would be to look at it from a child´s perspective¨ explains Mallesh. ¨This way, we felt more liberated and free to come up with unconventional ideas. The client, too, shared the idea of trying to create something that would appeal to a child´s sensibilities.¨ As children love the fantasy and make-believe world, the architects zeroed in on the concept of creating a school that integrated manifold childhood fantasies, with playfulness being the basic element linking all the interior spaces.
Located on a compact site in an urban residential neighbourhood, the basement-plus-five storey school building comprises of classrooms, library, activity rooms, several play areas and a multipurpose hall.
The childhood fantasy concept has been given concrete shape in myriad ways - both subtly and overtly. The elevation is a collage of several curved alphabets. The angular cave-like entrance is inviting in its mystery. The meandering walls in the corridor and the class rooms generate a womb like feeling; the peep holes in doors, nooks and corners in corridors for playing hide and seek, all make the school an exploratory treat for the curious mind. Along with the library that mimics a large candy and is painted with multiple colours, the total design creates a distinct world that is fun to be in, and has none of the severity associated with conventional schools. The extensive use of angles, curves and straight lines - like the angular entrance, winding walls, wiggly ceiling panels - makes the spaces more playful. These varied spaces are linked with a staircase and a special void that cuts through the building in section.
Space and security
¨Given the large amount of built up area, the major challenge in this project was to give a spatial quality to the project. We achieved this by carving out the atrium around the staircase, which facilitates visual and spatial interaction between the different levels,¨ reveals Mallesh. At the same time, safety and security of children were also given due attention. ¨For instance, the railing heights were raised and we used vertical flats in the design, eliminating horizontal members. These are designed to prevent children from climbing over the railing,¨ explains Mallesh.
Vibrant shades like green and pink with a mix of sober grey have been used creatively and in contrast all over - from the walls and ceilings to the staircase. For instance, the angular entrance painted in pink contrasts with the green walls in the reception and the main staircase that connects the five levels. The classrooms on the upper level are all colour coded to match the colour scheme of the furniture used.
While a skylight brings in daylight into the atrium area, the green eastern wall is peppered with a bunch of pivoted circular openings to bring in light and air from that direction.
Cadence has taken the very concept of school design, and with it the approach towards education, to a totally new level. Turning a child´s colourful imaginary world into reality, it makes the school a welcoming place. Will more schools follow suit?
Project: Cassata Primary school
Client: Planet Kids
Project Period: 2011-2013
Project Cost: Rs 3 Crore
Plot Area: 3,200 sq ft
Built-up Area: 70,000 sq ft
Ground Coverage: 2,500 sq ft
No of floors: Basement plus five floors comprising of classrooms, library, multipurpose space, activity rooms and play areas
Principal Architects: Narendra Pirgal, Smaran Mallesh, Vikram Rajashekar
Project Architects: Sangeeta Patrick , Chaitra Koshy, Gowtham Archarya, Harish Kumar
Structural Engineer: Manjunath & co
Text: Janaki Krishnamoorthi
photos: Anand Jaju
Cadence, No.45, KK Complexi
Shankarmutt Road, Shankarpurami
Bengaluru 560 004.
Meet the designers
Vikram Rajashekar and Narendra Pirgal
Firm: Cadence established in 2005.
Firm specialisation: Architecture and interior design.
Design philosophy: Transcend the obvious, create pleasurable and sensorial experience with buildings that celebrate life.
Favourite architect/Designer: Le Corbusier