A School In Delhi

  • December 23, 2013
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A few years back, a person we did not know, but since then, some one that the whole office has grown to love and respect, walked in the office. She was a young passionate lady who cared deeply about education, and about children, and had a school in Dwarka, that she was in the process of renovating. She wanted us to do the landscape. There was not much to do or so it seemed. There were the margins that had to allow , fire brigade access, and a court. Did not seem much; but she was insistent. Not sure if we could really bring value to the project, and also simply because of what we could see was sheer commitment to her work we did the project as a pro-bono effort. That it now has rewarded us in ways that we cannot begin to enumerate is another story altogether.

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nirmal bhartia school 26_pbb 12    nirmal bhartia school 26_pbb 11The work started us with us making a kit of parts; a set of recognizable objects that would form the landscape. This consisted of trees, play objects and floor scapes.

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The logic of what would be located where, largely dependent on the possible options of the fire brigade clearances; and this in turn deciding what sort of spaces we got on either sides.

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With this kit of parts we did short workshops with the children in school, with teachers too, and observed carefully the kind of landscape they imagined. It was a learning experience, since the unfettered minds did not care about the obvious, and soon enough trees were grown on the window shades and terraces, and many versions of the space were being defined. But the one thing that stuck us was that in their mind there was no need to a visual or apparent cohesion of spaces- it did not need to feel like one unified design- it did not even need to feel connected; it needed however to allow abstractions, interpretations and many variations in activities.

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_MG_9809The entrance has large portals with easy to buy wind chimes from the market. A series of them, composing and performing at all times a tune composed by the breeze.

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Images of the children claiming the space, some learning about plants, other using the compound walls as their canvas, yet others using the many other installations on the wall.One of the images has a scarecrow; the product of a design effort by the children.

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Many sketches were drawn, resulting in the many objects in the landscape; insects, birds, and butterflies.

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Images above of the small corners exploited to allow play and discovery, or the driveway embedded with floor games.
The school and the landscape are complete and are filled with the kind of  joy that only happy children can bring.

Writing about the landscape , the school in their communication document says:

‘Wonder’ful Spaces

In our playscapes and landscaped gardens at NBS, everything grows- joy, laughter, wonder, beauty and even calm! Welcoming children with the lyrical sounds of chimes played by the breeze, the garden takes them up along a wandering pathway of butterfly and herb patches to the walls of illusion, water play nook, twisty slide, rope ladders, swings and through the maze of grasses to the caterpillar tunnel. Designed with patience and love and in collaboration with the children themselves, the space is special and sacred. A place where learning happens in its most natural way, through wonder and play!”

And we have gained a lot;  we have learnt about passion, about patience, about faith and about the joy of working with good decent  people.


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