Adharshila School Extension Project
Agara Village, Sheopur District, Madhya Pradesh, India
image: Merajuddin Syed | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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Location:
Agara Village, Sheopur District, Madhya Pradesh, India
Category:
education
Phase:
under construction
Updated:
12 August 2021
This project gives safe and comfortable learning environment to students in the tribal heartland of rural central India. It's USP is to use local materials, technology and skillsets to create a building that is made and belongs to the village. The project is aimed to be environmentally and socially sustainable by encouraging the community to celebrate indigenous materials and knowledge systems to make a functional yet aesthetic building. Various facets of the construction are done by local craftsmen and skilled workers generating employment for the villagers and a sense of ownership.
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Introduction
This project forms a part of a larger initiative to provide meaningful education to children of families displaced from the Kuno national park. Samrakshan and Adharshila Shiksha Samiti were set up by Dr. Asmita Kabra to deal with the social aspects of a wildlife conservation project. The project that resulted in the displacement of villages and consequent migration of villagers into Agara led to the dearth of basic facilities.

The Adharshila school was set up as a part of this response and some classroom structures were built over the years. In 2016 Adharshila wanted to apply for board accredition which required it to have 4 more classrooms capable of occupying 50 students each. The organisation approached Delhi based architecture firm Forum Architecture led by architects Suparna Ghosh and Jensil John. The funding received by the school was negligible to build but Forum and Adharshila decided to approach the problem differently. We designed the building in a low cost and socially sustainable way and went back to funders with a comprehensive building report. Funding was subsequently increased and the building was able to start construction. 
The key points addressed through the building were to use local materials like river bed stone and build using the prevalent building systems of the area, use passive cooling technology to deal with 50 degree centigrade summers, generate employment for locals, integrate local crafts (local potters employed for providing clay pots for the filler slab) and create a building that gave its users a sense of ownership and belonging. Addressing climatic factors like hot arid summers, dust storms and water shortages led the architects to rely on specific responses like building orientation, cavity walls, rain water harvesting, solar energy and filler slab technology.
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Impact
The school is now certified as a Higher Secondary School which means children of the Adivasi (tribal) community that study here can appear for the state board exams that allows them national accredtion as well as an opportunity to higher studies as well as opportunities. At a larger social level this is a huge achievement for a village that has only recently been connected by a road to the city and has suffered tremendously in the past few decades due to displacement, migrations and enroachements.

At the building level the building works as an example of how local materials and technologies can be used to generate good architecture reinstating a dying faith in vernacular knowhows and skillsets. The building has used local river bed stone, cut and dressed at the site generating employment. The masonry followed the existing techniques of stone building enhanced into a double layered wall for reducing heat transfer from the outside to the inside of classrooms. Locally made pots were incoroporated into the construction technology of the classrooms of this low cost rural school building. The pots were made in the workshop of a potter from a neighbouring village. Being a small scale family operation the 600 odd pots that were used in the filler slabs gave employment to the family for many months. The pots are laid in the slab in a designed pattern that provide an interior ceiling aesthetic without any additional cost make the interiors a result of the construction technology employed. Other than the environmental sustainability factor we also felt that this project worked towards social sustainability where local manpower and resources are used to generate employment as well a feeling of ownership of public buildings. The fact that even small scale craftsmen can contribute towards design and construction of a school was something a lot of people in the village had never experienced or anticipated.

 
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Core team
The project is a close collaboration between a core team at the Adharshila Shiksha Samiti that runs the school as well as works closely with the community and children of Agraa village and a Delhi based architecture firm called Forum Architecture. The former have been involved in educational and skill development programs in the core as well as surrounding villages since over the past 20 years.  Led by Dr Asmita Kabra who founded it and geared by educator and local liaison for the project Mr. Merajuddin Syed the community is actively engaged through these anchors. Merajuddin has devoted his life to the education of this group of villages and works towards creating a much needed bridge between basic education and eventual employability of the children of this neglected community. Merajuddin also doubled up as the site manager, project manager and a key player in the construction of the building as per the drawings and details of the architect. Technical support and design support was provided by architects Suparna Ghosh and Jensil John, both architects with a focus on sustainable and eco-friendly design. Their design was a result of a study of the village and its material as well as aesthetic language. A visit by the architectural team to the site in the peak of summer also led them to address the harsh climate as a core issue.

Core Team –

Suparna Ghosh – Lead Architect – Partner, Forum Architecture. M.Sc. Architecture (Politecnico di Milano, Italy), B.Arch. (Sushant School of Art and Architecture, India)

Jensil John – Lead Architect- Partner, Forum Architecture, M.Sc. Architecture (Politecnico di Milano, Italy), B.Arch. (TVB School of Habitat Studies, India)

Mr. Devashish Mohan – Project Architect, Forum Architecture, B. Arch (Integral Univisity, India)

Dr. Asmita Kabra – Professor and former Dean, School of Human Ecology, Ambedkar University Delhi and President, Adharshila Education Society

Mr. Merajuddin Syed – Team Leader, Adharshila Education Initiative and Secretary, Adharshila Education Society
Image gallery
01 Classroom Interior View

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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02 South Corridor

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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03 North Facade

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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04 North Facade 2

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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05 Adharshila East facade.jpg

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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06 Filler Slab Ceiling Pattern

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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07 Construction of Filler Slab

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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08 Construction of Stone Foundation

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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09 Construction of South Facade

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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10 Wall Construction

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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11 Fittting of Windows

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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12 Filler Slab Construction

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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13 First Floor Corridor

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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14 Staircase Landing

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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15 Staircase without Railing yet

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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Technical drawings
01 Location

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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02 Existing Site Context

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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03 Masterplan and Phasing

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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04 Proposed Phase 1 Building

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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05 Ground Floor Plan

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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06 Building Cross Sections

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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07 Building Longitudinal Section

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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08 Building Sectional Elevation

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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09 External Wall Sections

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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10 South Facade Views

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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11 Wall Construction

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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12 Wall construction details

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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13 Construction Images

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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14 Structure elements in construction

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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15 Filler Slab RCP

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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16 Filler Slab Construction

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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17 Filler Slab Details

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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18 Potters Workshop for Filler Slab Detailing

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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19 Wall Construction

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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20 Interior electrical conduiting

image: Forum Architecture | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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Where are we now
The architects first made a masterplan for the school where future expansion beyond this stage which was called phase 1 was envisioned. This envisioned a fully functioning campus with classrooms, labs, library and various other facilities. At present the building that formed phase 1 (approximately 6000sq.ft) has been constructed but final touches like staircase railings, terrace waterproofing and finishing, furniture, landscaping and paving are pending due to exhaustion of funds. The railings and waterproofing are critical for occupancy of the building and we hope that we can complete those as soon as possible. Good quality and well designed furniture needs to be fabricated to make the classrooms comfortable and functional.
An indication of our team’s capacity:
90% funding already raised
90% expertise already found
90% materials / equipment already found
90% builders already found
Finance: € 12,000
We are looking for only a last tranche of funding in order to complete a building and make it safe for occupancy. For the last four years we are raising funds piecemeal to execute the building and now stand at a stage where it is nearly safe and habitable. The funding would be aimed at waterproofing of the roof which is one of the main things pending in the construction. The staircase railing needs to be added for safety as well. Furniture in the classrooms (200 seats) needs to be fabricated to make them functional. At the moment the school is functioning with borrowed furniture from the older classrooms.
  • Railings
1,000
  • Light Fittings
1,000
  • Technical Fees
2,000
  • Waterproofing of Terrace
5,000
  • classroom furniture
3,000
Stuff: Materials
We need to furnish 4 classrooms of 50 seats each which comes to 200 study bench+table and 4 teachers desks and chairs. Each classroom also needs one cabinet for storage. Refurbished furniture, or furniture made from reclaimed wood/metal is welcome for this purpose. If that is possible then the cost we have entered above of 3000 euros  can be mitigated or substantially reduced. This would also help us in being true to our sustainability goals.
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