A Low-Cost Vernacular Approach To Sustainable Design

Forum Architecture

An existing campus in Agara, Madhya Pradesh needed to add 4 classrooms, for 50 students each. The location of the project posed logistical hurdles as the closest town was 4 hours away by road, making sourcing and procurement of materials difficult.

The building proposed was hence designed using locally available materials, knowledge systems and skillsets with a low-cost approach.

Forum Architecture

The school is located in an arid and hot area in the Chambal Valley, close to the Rajasthan border and Thar desert. Dust storms and temperatures climbing to 50 degrees C in the summer needed to be dealt with in long unrelenting summers.

Forum Architecture

The building is designed with climate sensitivity, using passive measures like orientation and cavity walls.

A deep corridor all along the south face of the buidingprovides ample shade from the harsh south sun. The openings provided on this face are also made slender in order to reduce heat intake from this facade. The north facade is provided with larger openings to bring in natural light and ventilation.

Forum Architecture

The structure of the building is designed to be load bearing masonry with RCC beams and slabs. This is done to reduce the cost of constructing columns, thereby reducing concrete as well as steel in the building. The slab is further designed to be a filler slab using earthen pots.

Forum Architecture

This further reduces the amount of concrete needed in the slab as well as provide an aesthetically richer look to the classrooms. The project is aimed to be socially sustainable by encouraging the community to celebrate indigenous materials and systems and to have a close connection with the new building being built.

Various facets of the construction are done by local craftsmen and skilled workers generating employment for the villagers. The clay pots for the filler slab were all made by a potter at the village in his small pottery shop as per the specifications explained to him.

Forum Architecture

Apart from providing good educational space to the community, overall the goal of the project was to engage and exhibit to them how their indigenous knowledge systems could be tweaked and reinterpreted to make a functional as well as aesthetic building, while reducing its carbon footprint and being environmentally sustainable.


Project Details

Name: Adharshila School Extension Project
Location: Village Agara, Sheopur, Madhya Pradesh
Architect: Forum Architecture
About Suparna Ghosh
Partner, Forum Architecture, Delhi
Forum Architecture

Suparna Ghosh studied architecture at Sushant School of Art and Architecture, Gurgaon following which she got a masters in Large Scale Sustainable Design from the Politecnico di Milano, Italy. In 2013 she started her studio

Forum Architecture in partnership with Jensil John in New Delhi. Over the last 6 years the firm has grown to do a variety of retail projects, residences, offices as well as public use spaces. It is the focus of the firm to be able to approach each project uniquely keeping in mind theirs’ as well as the clients’ aspirations. Suparna won the Runner Up Award in the Most Sustainable Design category in

*Winning Project-Most Sustainable Design


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