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THE BEFORE

The school building was once an abandoned and rundown watch factory situated in a dense 2-acre jungle. The old building appeared tired and aged, hardly a space to nurture preschool children.

the after

Today, Ekya Early Years is a fresh and vibrant space that stands tall while encouraging the children and their education.

CHILDRENS ENTRANCE WALKWAY

The transition space is a semi-open walkway that encircles the courtyard ensuring a visual connect between the indoors and outdoors.

left: The staircase before, right: after

Despite being old and forlorn, the building’s form, spatial quality and precinct seemed perfect for a school building with high ceilings, long open halls and tall windows. Design interventions were made to facilitate a better learning environment through play, engagement and interaction with one another and nature.

Courtyard with reading platform

The primary objective of the design intervention was to create connection between the landscape and learning areas. 13 classrooms or ‘learning environments’ are oriented around the densely planted jungle courtyard.

VIEW OF CLASSROOM NOOK

The classrooms, where no colourplay transpires, only singular colours. Colours are used to identify and demarcate areas such as reading spaces and teaching areas. They are used as solid colours unlike the gradients in the semi-formal areas. This ensures that children remain focused during study hours.

Office Parent entrance

The school entrance, office areas and the semi-formal courtyard walkway exhibit stripes painted on their walls and coloured metal louvers on the ceilings.

Rear garden and playground

The school overlooking the playground. The louvers provides stimulus and a hint of frolic to the atmosphere.

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Workspace 23 Aug 2017

Repurposed: The emancipation of an old factory at Kanakapura; Ekya Early Years by CollectiveProject

Are colours auxiliary to design or can they steer design to newer arenas? Ekya Early Years in Kanakpura, Bengaluru was once an old abandoned factory. Today, the building is a fresh and vibrant space and stands tall to encompass kindergarten and Montessori education. At Ekya, colour, is not an accessory or ornamentation but has directed design and dictated execution. The project is an exemplary example of adaptive reuse, conservation and colourplay, CQ finds out how.

The Narrative of the Old Warehouse

Ekya Early Years, Kanakapura Road, Bengaluru designed by CollectiveProject provides kindergarten and Montessori education. The school building was once an abandoned and rundown watch factory situated in a dense 2-acre jungle. The old building appeared tired and aged, hardly a space to nurture preschool children. The paint was peeling and the interiors were dark and dreary. The building posed structural problems as the beams had sagged and the plinth had sunk. 

While the building wallowed in disrepair, its form, spatial quality and precinct seemed perfect for a school building with high ceilings, long open halls and tall windows. Design interventions were discussed to create a better learning environment through play, engagement and interaction with one another and nature. 

THE BEFORE

The school building was once an abandoned and rundown watch factory situated in a dense 2-acre jungle. The old building appeared tired and aged, hardly a space to nurture preschool children.

 
the after

Today, Ekya Early Years is a fresh and vibrant space that stands tall while encouraging the children and their education.

Colour Interventions and the Learning Environment

The architects responded to their vision by highlighting the beauty of the existing factory structure. Montessori schools call for an environment where natural light, ventilation and interaction with nature are vital. So they used a colourful narrative and included some architectural interventions to highlight spaces where the school opens outward onto a courtyard. This encourages  learning through self-directed activity and collaborative play. 

CHILDRENS ENTRANCE WALKWAY

The transition space is a semi-open walkway that encircles the courtyard ensuring a visual connect between the indoors and outdoors.

The primary objective of the design intervention was to create connections between the landscape and learning areas. 13 classrooms or ‘learning environments’ are oriented around the densely planted jungle courtyard. There are four access points from the courtyard to the indoors.  

left: The staircase before, right: after

Despite being old and forlorn, the building’s form, spatial quality and precinct seemed perfect for a school building with high ceilings, long open halls and tall windows. Design interventions were made to facilitate a better learning environment through play, engagement and interaction with one another and nature.

The transition space is a semi-open walkway that encircles the courtyard and ensures a visual connect between the indoors and outdoors. Reading nooks and informal seating spaces are nestled amidst the courtyard and classrooms. But beyond spatial orientation, colour is used strategically to establish a playful identity. 

Office Parent entrance

The school entrance, office areas and the semi-formal courtyard walkway exhibit stripes painted on their walls and coloured metal louvers on the ceilings.

Colour is often auxiliary to design, but at Ekya, the architects wanted to take it a step further. They finalised on a sequence of 8 colours to start with. The colours were devised on site based on the CMYK model after experimentations across various hues and colour palettes. The finalised colours were procured from Asian Paints. The landscape was also a part of the palette. 

The school entrance, office areas and the semi-formal courtyard walkway exhibit stripes painted on their walls and coloured metal louvers finished with enamel paint on the ceilings. Louvers are a set of angled slats fixed at regular intervals to allow air or light to pass through. Metal is commonly powder coated, but the selected colours were unavailable for powder coating, hence Enamel paints were used. 

VIEW OF CLASSROOM NOOK

The classrooms, where no colourplay transpires, only singular colours. Colours are used to identify and demarcate areas such as reading spaces and teaching areas. They are used as solid colours unlike the gradients in the semi-formal areas. This ensures that children remain focused during study hours.

"Colours are used to distinguish between different areas, for instance reading spaces and teaching spaces. While solid colours constitute majority of the learning areas, gradients are often used in semi-formal areas. This ensures that children remain focused during study hours."

Space and Materials

The louvers provided stimulus and a hint of frolic to the atmosphere. The colour gradient transforms to single colours inside the classrooms around the courtyard. Colours are also used to distinguish between different areas, for instance reading spaces and teaching spaces. While solid colours constitute majority of the learning areas, gradients are often used in semi-formal areas. This ensures that children remain focused during study hours. 

Courtyard with reading platform

The primary objective of the design intervention was to create connection between the landscape and learning areas. 13 classrooms or ‘learning environments’ are oriented around the densely planted jungle courtyard.

Along with utility, the colour also fulfils its auxiliary function aesthetically and adds vibrancy against a white backdrop which not only flows across walls but also continues on the classroom floors. The floor is finished in Epoxy, by Asian Paints. Wood textured ceramic tiles are used in the office areas and the semi-open transition spaces to further bring in an element of nature. 

Rear garden and playground

The school overlooking the playground. The louvers provides stimulus and a hint of frolic to the atmosphere.

Context and Closure

The architects were delighted to find that the children not only engaged and experienced the spaces, but also with its colour play. The Ekya Group organised a field trip at the new school with its other Montessori and Kindergarten schools that saw around 200 children spread across their campus. They observed that the children from this school sported rainbow name tags while students from the other school wore single solid coloured name tags; a clear indicator of the colour, collaboration and cohesion facilitated by design. 

https://montessori-nw.org/what-is-montessori-education/

The Collective Project is a young design studio in Bengaluru. Browse through their other work here! For more such article on repurposed spaces, follow the series Repurposed on CQ.