The Krishnamurti Foundation, India is a charitable trust established with the intent to promote educational, cultural and humanitarian activities in the light of Sri J Krishnamurti’s teachings. Rajghat Besant School (RBS) under the Rajghat Education Center (REC) is one of the six Krishnamurti Foundation centres that was set up in the year 1928 based in the city of Varanasi. The campus is located at the confluence of rivers Ganga and Varuna with total acreage of about 330.
RBS is a 360-student co-educational residential school that follows the CBSE curriculum. The school also has a resident and locally based teaching, administration and support staff community of about 250 people.
Most of the members of the community live, study and work in the campus all through the year except holidays.
The campus is in need of staff housing, both of which can used for families living for the long term as well as guests who stay for the short term. Ideally, it should have a living room, Kitchenette, 2 bedrooms and 2 toilets. The building/ cluster of buildings shall be max. G+2. (7-9 units in total) Car parking is not required as the campus does not encourage inside parking. As part of the campus master plan, the client decided that valuable land in the RBS campus shall not be lent to standalone housing but rather be replaced with planned clusters. Such clusters shall be built on the principles of sustainability in order to maximize usage of natural renewable forces like air & light whilst minimizing non-renewable footprints like energy, water and waste. They should be aesthetically constructed keeping in mind the beauty of the Krishnamurti campus.
Being a very green campus, it was of utmost importance to maintain this character. Cluster planning of the housing blocks is based on establishing the buildable area around the trees so that not a single tree is cut. 3 housing blocks are planned such that there is a central green and access from all sides so that it blends with the surrounding fabric of the campus.
Each housing block is G+2 (& G+1) with one 2BHK unit on each floor (Total 7nos. 2BHK units). Each unit is designed such that the common spaces (living/dining space, kitchen, toilets) stack vertically, but the 2 bedrooms rotate on either side. This creates interesting terraces (entry terrace and private terrace) on each floor. The housing blocks are clustered such that each terrace doesn’t overlook directly into the terrace of the other block, thus maintaining privacy.
Ample daylight, cross ventilation, projections, terraces achieve a comfortable environment and enhance the happiness index of the residents. Natural materials such as Kota stone for the flooring and plaster and paint for the exterior wall is used. The colours and sloping roofs are in a contemporary way that not only blends with the RBS Krishnamurti Campus but also provides a fresh modernity to the new buildings.
Flyash bricks have been used along with clay bricks. Rainwater harvesting, dual piping with treated grey water for flushing, LED lights, low flow sanitary fixtures are being used in the units. All these are not only low on the overall carbon footprint but also reduces overall operations and maintenance costs.
Keeping this intent in mind the design process was very interactive, and holistic and involved team members of RBS and well as experts from other Krishnamurti schools. Multiple concept design options with models were discussed with the team. Green building concepts, MEP, and structural engineering best practices were integrated from the initial design stages itself. Upon approval of the concept design, detailed drawings, and specifications were prepared. The tender documents were meticulously prepared keeping in mind time and quality. During construction, periodic site visits by the design team were carried out to make sure construction was as per the drawings and documents.
Architecture firm: STUDIO NEXT
Principal architect: Tarun Kumar
Project Location: Varanasi, India
Built area: 1160 sq.m.
Site area: 1200 sq.m. (campus of 330 acres)
Photography: Nikhil’s Portrait Vision, Varanasi