Alma Mater is an alternate school designed and built to withstand the hot arid climate of Jodhpur. The design celebrates Jodhpur’s traditional crafts and artisans.
Alma Mater is a school in Jodhpur that prioritizes the holistic development of children’s moral, physical, and emotional character, fostering empathy for the world. The pedagogy revolves around experiential learning and understanding societal functioning. In partnership with Hunnarshala, the campus was designed to reflect their values and offer creative learning opportunities.
The design features interconnected courtyards, ideal for Jodhpur’s tropical, hot arid climate. It follows passive architecture, considering the climate to reduce energy usage and maintain comfort, particularly during high summer temperatures of over 40 degrees Celsius. To minimize carbon footprint, local materials like stone, mud, lime, and recycled wood were predominantly used.
The campus also emphasizes the cultivation of a diverse range of arid Rajasthan flora to instill respect and appreciation for the environment. Celebrating Rajasthan’s craft traditions, the design incorporates modern expressions of textiles, pottery, iron smithy, wood carving, lime, and stone. Alma Mater aspires to create an environment that promotes sustainability, cultural heritage, and a deep connection to the community.
To reduce carbon footprint, Alma Mater uses locally sourced materials like stone, mud, lime, and recycled wood. The campus celebrates Rajasthan’s craft traditions with modern expressions and diverse arid flora, helping children respect and appreciate the local environment.
- STONE and lime:
In Jodhpur, lime is valued for its cooling effect and durability. Alma Mater extensively used lime plaster and mortar made from lime for the entire campus. The inside plasters were tinted with colors. Beejaram, a skilled traditional lime plaster artisan, prepared the lime putty following a family tradition of aging it for six months. Skilled artisans were employed to make the inexpensive random rubble stone appear exquisite. The school uses the cheapest available stone as random rubble, but got skilled artisans to make it look exquisite!
The school site’s favorable soil allowed the production of stabilized earth blocks using cement and lime. Hunnarshala artisans like Nawab from UP, used these blocks for walls and roofs using Mogul tradition, with vaults on the ground floor and shallow domes on the first floor. Terracotta bowls, crafted by Ramzan from Salawas, were used in filler slabs to reduce steel and cement usage, while earthen pots exposed to sun above, helped keep the rooms cool.
Recycled wood is used throughout the project, including sloping roofs, mezzanines, windows, doors, and terraces. Existing indigenous Khejri trees are integrated into the design, providing shade and a natural ambiance. The sloping roofs face north, with cavity ventilation and UV protection, while the classrooms receive uniform reflected light from north-facing roof windows. Antique wooden artifacts generously provided by a parent of one the students in the school contribute to Jodhpur’s historical context.
Hunnarshala collaborates with Marwar region artisans to contemporize crafts, like metal waste murals and mosaic flooring, enriching the school’s aesthetics.
5. terrazzo: The school uses traditional marble chip flooring, polished to a shining finish, with artistic motifs. Terrazzo tiles are also explored by an entrepreneur from Bikaner
The design process were carried out with three strategies: user engagement, climate response and spatial organization. The school’s layout revolves around interconnected courtyards and classrooms, seamlessly integrating indoor and outdoor spaces. The design process involved active participation from students, teachers, and leaders. Employing passive architecture principles, the design caters to Jodhpur’s hot arid climate, minimizing energy consumption and ensuring comfort. The site, situated on flat land, features courtyards and platforms at different levels, creating an engaging and dynamic experience. Classrooms are designed with various configurations, catering to different age groups. Informal spaces, split levels, and lofts are incorporated for younger children to facilitate diverse activities. Elder children’s classrooms follow a more formal setup. Multiple platforms at varying heights accommodate activities of different scales. The library utilizes split levels to maximize natural light and provide captivating views. The overall layout fosters a harmonious environment that encourages interaction, exploration, and a strong connection with the surrounding landscape. The school’s design emphasizes the importance of integrating nature and learning spaces, promoting a holistic educational experience.