The natural world can facilitate children’s education, as much as textbooks and classrooms can. It incites their natural curiosity, encouraging them to explore their surroundings and gather inferences not otherwise possible in a conventional classroom. Play in nature is especially important for developing capacities for creativity, problem-solving, and intellectual development. Based on Rabindranath Tagore’s ideology that children gather knowledge from their surroundings, the design for GD Goenka Signature School in Gurugram is a woven fabric of built and open. By virtue of its design, the school blurs the threshold between interiors and exteriors, encouraging students to learn with nature.
Site planning measures
The site planning for the school is based on Rabindranath Tagore’s concept of the “river of knowledge” with an organic natural waterbody connecting the various open spaces on site. The layout of the blocks is such that green spaces punctuate each individual built block. Connected via pathways, corridors, ramps etc the individual blocks act as one coherent whole, with interspersed open green spaces inciting the possibility of play.
The school incorporates a variety of interactive spaces, keeping in mind the diverse needs of children, ensuring that they can engage equally with their surroundings. All the activity rooms in the campus are designed to spill out onto the open spaces, where these act as extensions to the classrooms. The different green spaces that have been planned on the campus include: a music garden, a sensory garden, a science garden and, a kitchen garden.
Passive design strategies
Through passive design measures, sustainability becomes an intrinsic part of the school’s planning. Since the school is located in a hot, arid climate, buildings have been oriented in the North-South direction to minimize heat gain inside the building. Similarly, windows on the southern and western facades are shaded by 50 mm deep horizontal louvers, while ensuring that internal spaces are adequately daylit. As per the daylight analysis, the regularly occupied spaces in the project achieve minimum 87% natural daylight.
The pervious landscaped surfaces, a rainwater harvesting system and a bio-swale on site that collects stormwater allow rainwater to be discharged underground naturally, creating a micro-ecosystem on site, a dynamic entity that changes with the seasons.