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The Rajkumari Ratnavati Girls School

When looking for architecture that fascinates me, I stumbled across this unique school in the deserts of Jaisalmer, India. The Rajkumari Ratnavati Girls School was designed by Diana Kellogg Architects and commissioned by CITTA which is a non-profit organisation that supports development in some of the most economically challenged, remote or marginalised communities across the world.

The aim of the GYAAN centre will be to empower and educate women and in this region of India it has one of the lowest literacy rates especially among girls but schools like this one will help nearly 400 girls aged between 5 and 16 providing them with a safe, accessible place to learn and feel empowered. When designing this school Kellogg looked at feminine symbols across cultures, in particular symbols of strength deciding on a structure of three ovals to represent infinity and the power of femininity as well as mirroring the shapes of the sand-dunes in Jaisalmer. The shape of the school also had a structural reasoning behind it as the shape and the position of the building helps to catch the wind which is then funnelled into the school helping to reduce the temperature keeping the students cool whilst in the desert.

Also, the classrooms have high ceiling allowing heat to rise and leave out of the small windows, this helps to reduce the heat within the classrooms up to 7 degrees Celsius cooler allowing for better concentration and reduced tiredness from students.

The designers were so keen to minimise the impact of the building that they moved the entire structure when they realised it would destroy two small trees which are now beautifully integrated into the courtyard. Linking to minimising impacts the entire school is made from local hand-carved Jaisalmer sandstone by local craftsmen which helps reduce carbon emissions as the materials did not need to be transported far. It was also vital to Kellogg to include the community within the design of the building which is another reason that she used locally sourced materials for the entire structure.

Within the design Kellogg included solar panels on the roof to provide electricity for lighting and fans and serve as a shaded canopy area for children to play in below. Another aspect of the design was for the roof and courtyard to collect water from the monsoons which could be used later, this idea was inspired by ancient water harvesting techniques.

The main aspect that drew me to this architecturally unique building was how the designers considered every aspect from the oval shape creating wind tunnels reducing temperatures within the school to the type of materials used decreasing the environmental impact of building the school.

Disclaimer: These images were not taken by myself they were found on the following websites.

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