Diana Kellogg Architects an Oval-shaped Institution in the Heart of the Thar Desert

A creation of Diana Kellogg Architects, Rajkumari Ratnavati School is a rural school for the girls of Jaisalmer built with the concept of sustainability and was designed keeping in mind the symbols of femininity.

Rajkumari Ratnavati's Girls School in the Thar Desert, India is an anomalous architecture designed, looking for 'symbols of femininity' by a New York-based studio Diana Kellogg Architects. The oval-shaped building was made with sandstone, easily accessible at the location, and built near the sand-dunes to reflect curvilinear shapes of the local forts and universal hieroglyphs of female strength.

"I ultimately landed on this oval shape that is representative of femininity and resonated with me as the formulation of infinity." Diana Kellogg said in an interview with Dezeen.

The project was commissioned by the New York-based non-profit organisation CITTA that aims to serve communities all over the world. This particular school was built to provide education to girls in a region where the female literacy rate is just 36 percent.

The school is built in an area of 9000 square feet and the structure consists of a paved courtyard which is surrounded by a large oval wall that encloses the classrooms. Sections of these stone walls are perforated, a recreation of the traditional jali screens, to prevent the sun and keep the space cool. "I wanted the design of the school to provide shading for the girls in the courtyard," said Kellogg on this idea. "I lessened the width so we could have a canopy cover the open space in the hot months."

The ten classrooms are also connected to these winding corridors and have clerestory windows for natural light and ventilation. The furniture is made of rosewood with the traditional charpai weaving, continuing the idea of being economically sustainable.

A ramp between the walls forms a shaded corridor that leads up to the terrace. The perforated balustrade surrounds the elevated walkway and tapers its height. A blue tiled-mosaic floor stretches across this walkway, adding a bright and cool contrast in composition to the Yellowstone.

The solar panels that supply energy for lights and fans in the building have been fitted to a steel structure, creating a canopy that gives shade to the children's play area and also providing them with privacy. "I came up with the idea of a solar-paneled shading canopy on the roof of the building – to work as a kind of old fashion jungle gym with seesaws, swings, monkey bars – the works, and even put up a screen to shield them for modesty," the architects added. They also incorporated rainwater harvesting in the design as another instrument of sustainability, recycling rainwater throughout the school.

In addition to Rajkumari Ratnavati School, the Diana Kellogg Architects team has added two buildings for performances, exhibitions, and women cooperative lessons for weaving and embroidery.

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