Art and Innovation hub is part of the rural educational campus of Agastya International Foundation in Andhra Pradesh. The architecture of this building stemmed forth from the understanding to bring together the arts and science and allow the learning that happens when strict disciplines are broken and a natural leap frogging from one to the other becomes the norm rather than the exception.
This idea is further strengthened from the belief that the attributes of the future are clearly stacked in favor of our creative community, if we pay heed to the idea of design thinking to solve many problems that escapes a fixated rationalist approach. We lowered our gaze to what lay under our feet, the ‘rock lizard’ shaking its head drew our attention to re-adaptation here. It was this simple, fun intuition that excited us to explore further this connections we were seeking from ‘the language of this land’, which is older than words.
Over laying the structural determinants and costs became our next priority along with capturing the views of the valley beyond. Tucking the ensemble into the contours further excited us about the potential of this approach so that it “effortlessly slips into the earth.” To the cut and fill that became the process of integrating our structure to the slopes, we added the dimension of covering part of the building under the sweep of the earth, which eventually was covered with greenery, merging the structure to the surrounding landscape.
The main entry meanders around the structure, where the earth berm covers the roof and merge into the landscape. As one moves closer to the entry, vistas open towards the exterior at various volumes. The double height area is a multiuse space for art installation, workshops and exhibition. Class room span along the contour, opening into semi covered decks. The double height gallery connecting all the class rooms has skylights at the roof level that create interesting play of light and shadow along the path. The storeroom and services are tucked on the rear zone.
The studio space spread in and out of the structure, blurring boundaries between interior and exterior. The toilets and services are located away from the main structure with a connecting walkway, the space along the walkway is used as outdoor classrooms and workshop area for doing outdoor activity connected with clay and water. Taking advantage of the land profile, spaces are carved below the service block, which is used by the children as break out spaces. The parking bay for the school buses is located at a distance from the main structure, tucked away in to the existing tree groves. The first floor accommodates the innovation hub, which extends to an additional block connected with a covered walkway. The earth berm hugging the structure at the entry accommodates the ramp to the first floor, creating an independent entry to the innovation hub. The facility extends to an additional unit lifted on stilts over the valley, connected by a semi covered walkway overlooking the surrounding valley beyond.
The interior layout of the innovation hub is designed based on the theme “Fun based interactive learning environment”. The space reflect ‘Design thinking’ and Learning how to learn’ attitude. Floor plate accommodates zones for orientation area, innovation resource center, lab area and design studio zones for curriculum activity. The uniform color scheme of the structure and interiors, creates a perfect background, an open canvas to display art and sculptures done by the kids that brings color and texture into the interiors.
“The structure seems carved from earth with each space creatively sculpted to suit the requirement along the lay of the land”.