Like a Ripple in the Desert

Jaisalmer, Rajasthan School Architecture1

Designed by US-based architect Diana Kellogg, Rajkumari Ratnavati Girls’ School stands cool under the glory of blond sun in the middle of the golden Sam Dunes of Jaisalmer.

Established just a few minutes drive away from Jaisalmer’s Sam Dunes, the oval shaped structure, made of yellow sandstones,  needs no air conditioner as it has been created in perfect harmony with nature with objective to educate the girls inhabit the remote area of Rajasthan.

The architectural wonder is the result of a decade long research work undertaken by Michael Daube, founder of CITTA, a Ahemdabad based non-profit organisation which aims to provide education for underprivileged children and US-based architect Diana Kellogg, who conceived the design and help it materialise.

Apart from the classes and library, the school is replete with facilities likes textile museum and performance hall, as well as an exhibition space for artisans to sell their crafts. The part of school called as Gyaan Centre can accommodate 400 girls from kindergarten to Class X. In one separate complex women will also be trained in traditional arts like weaving and textiles to preserve dying handicrafts.

It was a completely new experience for Diana to work in such far flung area of thar desert as she had never worked outside New York in past but she was in awe with architecture of forts and steep wells of Rajasthan right from the time when she had visited the state in 2014. That experience gave her the confidence to create such an incredible design.

Her design is brought to reality by the talented artisans in every village surrounding the school, and there could not be better material to use than sandstone.The local sandstone has been used for construction, which provides protection from extreme heat during the day, and warmth during evening hours.

The solar panels installed at the top of the building work as a canopy, and provide shade while simultaneously powering the building. A cooling system uses geothermal energy at night to cool the building during the day.The courtyard in the complex can harvest 3.5 lakh litre of water and store it in its belly.

According to her, the elliptical shape of the structure also helps bring aspects of sustainability.The canopy and the jalis filter the sand. They keep the sun and heat out. The pattern of airflow inside the building naturally cools it down.

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