Perched among the valleys of Chikmagalur surrounded by rolling hills is the Stepping Stones Kindergarten School of the Summit campus which is its most recent addition. An elementary school has already been built earlier which was the first building of the campus and the kindergarten being the second building with a secondary school under construction currently.
The Program for the school consists of 6 classrooms accommodating 30 students a class, a reading space/ library which can also be a parents-teachers meeting area, a space to play for the playgroup students, a story telling space, a toddlers’ pool, restrooms and a sand play area. The challenge was in articulating such a simple program and build spatial intrigue.
Classrooms and play spaces have been arranged around ideas of circulation and residual spaces used to accommodate function. These ideas have been brought about by shifting the axes of circulation in two levels hinged at the staircase and creating residual spaces for a running track, assembly/play spaces, waiting spaces, storytelling, reading room, a toddlers’ pool and restrooms. There was a deliberate attempt to keep the footprint low so that the scale of the space was not overwhelming to the little occupants of the school.
The kindergarten school occupies a site within the campus which is an exclusive corner.It was a design strategy which would allow us to keep the activities of the school to a secluded corner so that the young children can freely move around within the school without the danger of venturing out into the rest of the campus and in turn be left unsupervised.
It has been our effort to make the spaces playful and fun. The entrance to the kindergarten school is through a sandpit. A ramp cuts into a sand pit which has been placed at a higher level and when a child descends through the ramp, the experience in some sense is of sinking into the sand pit. The entrance ramp opens into an open space abutted by a running track which has been placed central so that it can be visually accessed from all levels.
The form of the building was conceived to be dynamic, playful and express movement. The staircase placed at the centre creates a double-height volume which allows visual connection to the social spaces from the upper level. Besides the walls of the classrooms, the school has to no definitive enclosure which blurs the line between the indoor and outdoor allowing an experience without strict spatial definition. The outside walls of each classroom are a blackboard where the students of each classroom can express themselves and also personalize their bit of the corridor. The kindergarten school is connected to the elementary school through a double-height space with a low entrance box to connect to the scale of the small toddlers.
The building has been designed as not just an enclosure, but the concrete and mortar translation of the vision and the aspirations of the School.
PROJECT NAME: STEPPING STONES KINDERGARTEN SCHOOL
ARCHITECT: STUDIO DECODE
COMPLETION YEAR: 2016
BUILT-UP AREA: 14200 sqft
OPEN AREA: 22,000 sqft
PROJECT LOCATION: CHIKMAGALUR, KARNATAKA, INDIA
LEAD ARCHITECTS: ASHOK DUTTA, MEGHANA DUTTA
DESIGN TEAM: M VIJAY KUMAR, SIDHEEK ALI, DEVRAJ REDDY, SHOJI ANTHONY