Founded by the influential 20th century philosopher and mystic J. Krishnamurti and set in a sprawling 400 acre rural campus, Rishi Valley School is a premier educational institute of India. Imbibing the introspective spirituality of Krishnamurti and fostering in it’s students an intimate communion with nature ; the school is modeled on the traditional Indian forest retreat or ‘ Vanashrama ‘.
The commission was for design of buildings to house the senior girls’ dormitories and supervising teacher’s residences. A central courtyard is the key element around which individual structures are arranged. In a region where water is often scarce, a rainwater harvesting system finds visual expression in the architecture and landscape detailing. Dormitories are open on two sides allowing for maximum cross ventilation as well as visual transparency from court , through dormitories, across to surrounding greenery . Composite screens of steel and local stone, that create climatic buffers while providing security, wrap the external facades. Space ‘in between’ the layered façade also offers opportunity for informal interaction between students, outside the gaze of institutional authority.
The project was built within an extremely tight budget of £100 per sqm and executed under trying conditions due to non availability of skilled building construction agencies locally.