Stumbling Upon the Desert’s Swirling Secret

Twirling  triumphantly amidst the blond sands of Rajasthan, the Nokha Village Community Centre is a striking learning art space designed by Mumbai-based avant garde practice Sanjay Puri Architects. Commissioned by Padmaramji Kularia as a heartfelt tribute to their late father, this architectural marvel transcends bricks and mortar, espousing the spirit of community and tradition.

Sprawling across a built-up area of just 9,000 square feet, the space spirals like a  sand dune, a hat-tip to the surrounding desert, An elliptical arts hub will cater to about 144 neighbouring villages dotting the Nokha district.

At the core of the Centre’s design is a 9,000 square foot spiral structure that majestically rises to form an inclined garden. This unique design facilitates recreational activities and gatherings, offering panoramic views of the desert landscape. It includes a 27,000-square-foot open auditorium and inclined rooftop gardens from where panoramas of the desert unfold in every possible direction.

The community centre can be used by anyone for various purposes like exploring, reading, browsing digital library or just relaxing at amphitheatre while relishing the music performances, talks and social interactions. At night it also makes a perfect place for stargazing.

Clad in locally sourced natural sandstone to minimise the heat gain while casting shape shifting shadows through the day. Likewise, the rooftop gardens, stone screens, a north-facing courtyard and grass berms along the southern facade go hand in hand in taming the mercury, so no part of the indoors is ever off limits.

For local folk, the architecture is partially vernacular and partially modern as it’s designed like a vernacular courtyard home. Sandstone screens are not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional, reducing heat gain and creating dynamic shadow patterns throughout the day.

The Nokha Village Community Centre is a model of sustainable construction, employing rainwater harvesting and water recycling to minimize its environmental footprint. The project’s commitment to using local craftsmen and materials underscores the importance of community involvement and sustainability in architecture

As per Mr Puri, The espousal of a locally sensitive design ethos that covers rainwater harvesting, water recycling, and the use of local materials and craftsmanship. “This approach ensures that the building sits gently on its desert landscape and supports the local economy.”

Under the Government of India’s Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat programme, an annual library grant is provided to all government schools. But it takes community centres like this one to really galvanise a culture of learning.

Photographs by Vinay Panjwani | Dezeen

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