ModSkool - Phase 2
KULESRA, GREATER NOIDA
Modskool is the modular design and construction of a low-cost school that was built in a few days and can be dismantled within a few hours. The modular school was initially built as a bridge school for the children of farmers along the Yamuna in Delhi and later had to be shifted further south along the Hindon river. It currently functions as bridge school for children of farmers in Kulesra in Greater Noida. The project has been awarded the Beazley Design of the Year 2020 in Architecture.
After providing a secure and creative educational space for around 200 students for a year, the school we had initially built with the community in Yamuna Khadar in 2017 had to be finally dismantled due to land ownership issues and relocated further south of the river for the children of farmers at a new location.
While the school at the first location used local building materials from around it such as bamboo and dried grass, at its second location, the school was built using the local craft of 'charpai' - traditional cot weaving found commonly in the area. The school has now been recreated, borrowing materials and practices from its new location. Not only was this approach the most affordable and employed local skills, it has also helped create a sense of ownership and pride within the community when they saw their building materials and processes adopted in creating a sustainable school for their children. A big shout out to Aashrya Soni for helping us lay the foundation of the school a second time!
As the India government attempts to follow the global trend of building ‘smart’ cities, the team attempts to raise the question – is it smart to remove farms to build parks as envisaged in the riverfront development plan? While the world over, cities are beginning to realize the importance of urban farming, do farmers have to be evicted from the heart of Delhi?
The design approach of the school also mirrors the teaching approach which focuses on holistic and sustainable education. Its multiple pivoting doors and windows help in creating an open learning environment for the children close to nature, built in materials they can find all around them. The peri-urban location of the school at the junction of urban and rural is also the junction between modern building practices using concrete and steel on one hand and traditional building practices using natural materials such as bamboo, wood and grass on the other. How can the school respond to these two conflicting but merging realities was an important thing to consider in its design.