This Sustainable College Teaches Children Amid Nature


What do you keep in mind most about your college? Is it the school rooms or the open areas, the amphitheatres the place you had your annual days or the basketball courts/soccer fields/grounds the place you spent hours taking part in with your folks? In a way, what we be taught exterior sticks with us greater than what we do in school rooms. 

Rabindranath Tagore established the Santiniketan in 1901, an academic establishment the place college students may be taught within the lap of nature. In truth, instructing was executed within the historical Indian Gurukul system within the open beneath the bushes. 

The Northstar College in Rajkot is an try to return to our roots, the place studying shouldn’t be confined inside 4 partitions. Impressed by the gurus in historical India and wanting to duplicate that sort of open studying the place college students are related to nature in each house, Mohit Patel began this college in 2016. Whereas learning at Harvard, the 38-year-old realised that the way in which colleges are run as we speak is in direct battle with the way in which kids be taught.

Set throughout a sprawling 15-acre campus, the varsity has extra outside areas than indoor and lays nice emphasis on local weather and sustainability, that includes built-in water administration techniques, an vitality environment friendly structure permitting nature mild and cooling, and use of pure and native supplies.

Out of the 15 acres, the educational blocks solely make up 2 acres. The remaining 13 acres are play areas, cricket fields, swimming swimming pools, athletic tracks, fruit orchards and extra.

Together with designing the curriculum, equal significance was given to the structure, to make sure that Mohit’s imaginative and prescient was delivered to life. It was executed so with architects Shanmugam associates, who ensured that the varsity was ethereal, with a variety of open areas and offered a snug surroundings for college kids.

Finding out within the lap of nature

Children study in the open at Northstar School
Youngsters examine within the open at Northstar College

The concept for this college really started as a category challenge in 2012, when Mohit was pursuing a Masters in Schooling at Harvard College. The challenge was on designing a faculty. Mohit checked out it from two views, one being curriculum and the opposite, house design.

“What I considered after I labored on the challenge was, how will we design studying experiences? One other vital query I had was how do you match these experiences into an area design? I conceived the challenge for a faculty in India and never America,” Mohit tells The Higher India

After returning to India, he began conceptualising and eager about how he may convert what was on paper into actuality. After engaged on the curriculum, Mohit joined palms with the staff at Shanmugam associates who labored on the house and constructing design.

Mohit explains that he was clear that the varsity ought to look “nothing like a faculty we’ve been used to ”. He wished children to spend extra time exterior the classroom than contained in the classroom.

With this pitch in thoughts, Santosh Shanmugam and Raja Krishnan D, principal architects on the structure agency, began planning the varsity. They determined to return to the roots and design an area the place college students can be taught from nature. 

“We began working with the view that once you enter this college, you need to get a sense that you just’re related to nature and open in each classroom and house. In a big house like this, we first began with a small portion, a classroom after which multiplied it throughout the campus. We designed every classroom with gardens on both aspect, to have good cross air flow. Since Rajkot will get extremely popular, we included small jali screens to chill the air or block the mud,” provides Santosh. 

The architects have interspersed panorama in each house doable. You’re welcomed by 

Gulmohar bushes on the entrance which create a cover. There’s a central courtyard which is impressed by the stepped wells of Gujarat which serves an area for courses, performances, and has greenery included by way of creepers and vines. Every classroom has its personal non-public backyard and an open courtyard, the place courses too will be performed, a la Santiniketan.  

By having gardens on all sides, a microclimate is created in every classroom. This retains the temperature decrease than the surface surroundings. The home windows within the school rooms immediately confide in the backyard.

The steps within the courtyard double up as a stage or place for rehearsals throughout occasions. The open corridors additionally include ample seating for college kids to lounge and work together with academics.

The architects have used native, indigenous supplies like Kota stones and native limestones. Their mission was clear: Each house a toddler is in have to be one with nature, be it a classroom, workers room, the bathrooms, courtyard or the play areas. They’ve inexperienced, vegetated screens on the primary flooring exterior school rooms to present a backyard feeling, and likewise scale back mud.

Each window or door opens out right into a inexperienced house or backyard. The college additionally has a horticulture program that teaches college students the method of rising wildlife, and is aimed to foster a deep-rooted reference to earth and local weather. The fruit orchards provide a hands-on expertise for the scholars with the surroundings.

A sustainable mannequin for waste administration

Students spend more time in the open at Northstar
College students spend extra time within the open at Northstar

The college additionally has a waste administration system for water, meals, and sewage. All of the kitchen waste and meals waste is reused as manure inside the campus. All of the water can also be recycled and there’s a Sewage Remedy Plant (STP) within the college. Rainwater can also be harvested and used for recharging the borewells. 

“The positioning topography slopes in direction of culvert and stream. So the rainwater is of course directed in direction of the borewell for groundwater recharge which finally goes to the Aji river. We’ve executed this by maintaining the topsoil of the campus loamy to supply for sufficient rainwater drainage. We’re additionally constructing a rainwater assortment and percolation tank,” provides Mohit.

The architects add that they designed the campus in a approach the place utilization of electrical energy is decreased. Raja explains that you just don’t want a lot lighting throughout daytime and air con is used solely in summers. Their design ensures that the varsity is vitality environment friendly.

Mohit with the students
Mohit with the scholars

“We all the time really feel that structure ought to care for the local weather by design and planning slightly than by any mechanical tools. That’s how the constructing ages properly, feels properly, feels comfy. In a conventional college, you could have corridors and school rooms on all sides. Our courses are designed in modules, so there’s no class which touches one another. A classroom will get mild from each side and is of course lit. Our corridors by no means have to be lit up as a result of there’s a lot pure mild and since it’s open,” says Raja.

Northstar has 500+ college students and 80 academics. Every class has a pupil energy of 20-25, maximising the world and facilities accessible for every pupil.

Mohit’s thought is for youngsters to take pleasure in college. Every part else is secondary, he says. The college doesn’t have exams until Class 10, and college students are usually not pressured into operating the rat race of IITs, medical entrance teaching from Class 8 itself. A faculty, he says, shouldn’t be regarded as a way to achieve admission to a reputed faculty, it needs to be a whole expertise of its personal.

“College students needs to be comfy and glad in school. So long as children are feeling glad being at school, all the things else goes to observe. Studying is a byproduct of being curious, of being glad, being in good environment. That comes from the academics, our relationship with our friends, the constructing, the surroundings; with all the things. We would like college students to be taught, develop into good human beings, imbibe important pondering. Education in itself is an expertise, not a way to do one thing else,” says Mohit. 

The aim and imaginative and prescient of the varsity is to assist college students ‘discover their true north’.

Raja says that he used to hate going to high school as he was burdened with homework and exams. “Now, I actually wish to return to high school and do my education at Northstar,” he laughs. 

Edited by Padmashree Pande


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