A new 2,050sqm addition to the existing Walkeshwar School in Mumbai is to be proposed in a tight void sandwiched between a rock cliff and the existing school. In such a tight and constrained site, the main challenge for the project is to draw light into building that is bounded on all 3 sides. The project achieves this by releasing the basic elements of floors, walls, and staircase from the cliff. The off-setting of the floors from the cliff allows the cliff face to act as a light washer, drawing light into the interior of the building. The main staircase and atrium of the building rotates and shifts with the contours of the cliff allowing a circulation route that is always in contact with the cliff face at different angles, at every turn. This rotation and translation of the staircase is formally described by a continuous ruled surface, generated from the lines of parapets, railings, landings and flights of steps.
On the exterior façade, our proposal envisions a building that requires no articulation to its elevation as the building will not be experienced or viewed from a distance due to the new building being bounded on all 3 sides. Without the problem of the elevation, the floor slabs are expressed instead as floating planes, hovering between the existing plateau and the cliff face. This is achieved by setting back the glass line by two metres all around the periphery of the building and to conceive of a structural system that will allow the visual continuity from the cliff face to the exterior. Our proposal is to use the most basic element of a school building – the white board – as a structural element. Thus the structure is envisioned as a series of white boards that carries the load from one floor to the next, is orientated to form the partition walls for each classroom and is aligned perpendicular to the cliff face to allow visual continuity and light penetration. All other furniture of the school like cabinets and storages are designed and positioned to ensure that the visual connection from the cliff face to the exterior is maintained
The challenge of the project ultimately is in exercising restraint and to solve within extremely tight confines, the most basic requirement that a building requires – to be able to see natural light and the exterior.
- Location: Mumbai, India
- Use: School
- Date: Concept Design, September 2006
- Area: 2,050 sqm
- Design Team: Chris Lee, Kapil Gupta, Santosh Thorat, Ali Asad, Kunal Gehvaria, Niti Gourisaria, Nupur Shah, Naina Gupta