Thursday, April 18, 2024

This Faculty’s Options Let College students Navigate By means of Odor, Contact & Sound


Image this — a faculty particularly designed to cater to the wants of these with visible disabilities. And bringing this to fruition is a faculty in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, setting the bar excessive for its inclusive architectural design. 

With its distinctive development and considerate design, the varsity empowers kids to depend on their different senses to navigate by the academic area.

Adorned with white partitions and ethereal courtyards, ‘The Faculty for The Blind and Visually Impaired’, designed by SEALabs, is devoted to those specific college students.

“Each visually impaired youngster has totally different wants, and we wished to create an area that was inclusive of all of them,” says Anand Sonecha, the architect of SEALabs, chatting with The Higher India.

So, how does this faculty assist its kids navigate? I’m glad you requested!

‘Discovered inspiration in lots of place’

Anand began his apply again in 2015 and had by no means labored on growing a faculty earlier than. “When Viren Joshi, the president of the varsity, approached me to take a look, I used to be very honoured. I used to be excited to get to the varsity and begin the designing course of,” he shares. 

Explaining the concept behind the varsity, he says, “There was an current constructing however was in a nasty situation. It was a faculty for underprivileged kids with visible impairment.” 

There have been two buildings — one was a hostel facility and the opposite one was the varsity. “In every room, twelve to fifteen college students had been dwelling in bunk beds. Consequently, a call was made to assemble a brand new educational constructing and convert the present construction completely right into a hostel facility. This might enable for redistribution of scholars throughout the bottom and first flooring, whereas offering them with extra comfy and improved dwelling areas.”

The Faculty for The Blind and Visually Impaired is positioned in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

Whereas Anand was excited to get on board the challenge, he lacked a supply of inspiration. To search out that, he determined to spend time with the children. 

“I started observing how college students navigate by totally different locations and areas, figuring out their preferences and gathering spots. Moreover, I made buddies with college students to raised perceive their day by day routines, likes, and dislikes throughout the current faculty. Equally, I engaged in discussions with academics to discover methods to boost the training surroundings,” he says. 

Moreover, Anand additionally began to go to faculties for kids with visible impairment throughout the nation. 

“The Victoria Memorial Faculty for the Blind in Mumbai left a long-lasting impression on me due to its exceptional magnificence, regardless of being an adaptively reused constructing. Nevertheless, I discovered only a few good examples of colleges particularly designed for customers with disabilities. Consequently, I later volunteered on the Perkins Faculty for the Blind in Massachusetts, one of many oldest faculties in the US. Established in 1829, it boasts a wealthy historical past with stalwarts like Helen Keller, Laura Bridgman, and Anne Sullivan who all studied there,” he says. 

He discovered fantastic mentors within the US and was capable of finding the precise course for the challenge.

“Once I went out in search of inspiration, I realised the way it was not one place that would assist me however loads. Visiting varied faculties was an important studying arc for me,” he says. 

Utilizing 5 senses to navigate

The college is designed to be navigated with the assistance of 4 senses: sight, listening to, contact, and scent.

“Solely 15% of individuals with blindness expertise a whole lack of sight. The vast majority of people who’re blind could understand gentle or color, and people with totally different impairments have various levels of usable imaginative and prescient,” he says. 

The school walls have different textures for students to recognise the classes.
The college partitions have totally different textures for college students to recognise the courses.

Retaining this in thoughts, Anand designed a faculty that makes use of color, scent, and lightweight to differentiate every class. 


“We employed 5 several types of wall plasters and textures for college students to establish areas. Moreover, for ease of navigation, we utilised totally different textures on the ground, incorporating tough and easy Kota stone, which marks the entry factors of the school rooms,” he says.

Every space classroom, hall, and courtyard within the faculty is marked and written in Braille.

Listening to:

For one more navigation approach that utilises listening to, Anand varies the volumes and heights of the buildings, creating totally different echoes and sounds to help college students in figuring out locations.

“As an example, the doorway of the varsity encompasses a extensive and tall quantity, whereas the other facet has a shorter quantity and is narrower. This distinction in width and peak produces a definite echo in comparison with the doorway. College students, as a part of their coaching, stroll, discuss, and even clap to practise utilizing totally different methods for figuring out areas,” he says. 


To make navigation simple for college students who can understand color in gentle, he used totally different colors.

“Provided that many low imaginative and prescient college students are learning within the faculty, one other side we needed to think about was utilizing contrasting colors and lighting to assist college students establish objects, furnishings, and areas,” he says. 

He provides, “As an example, every classroom door is brightly painted, the doorway is in a special brilliant color, and the bathroom doorways are painted in contrasting but vibrant colors. This strategy ensures that college students with low imaginative and prescient can readily establish and find necessary parts, such because the switchboard.”


Moreover, to make the school rooms much more distinctive from one another, the architect determined to have interaction the sense of scent.

He says, “We now have additionally planted fragrant vegetation at entries, which may help college students in marking and figuring out locations. These parts function totally different clues included into our design. College students, primarily based on their consolation and understanding, use these clues to navigate the constructing.”

The school has brightly coloured doors to help the students with partial vision navigate better.
The college has brightly colored doorways to assist the scholars with partial imaginative and prescient navigate higher.

Inclusive, sustainable and a haven for the scholars

There are 5 particular lecture rooms and 7 lecture rooms with particular person courtyards within the faculty.

“The furnishings association was additionally essential, and the form and dimension of the school rooms advanced primarily based on how college students would sit. To make sure equal consideration from the instructor, we designed a ‘C’ formed seating association the place every scholar is in shut proximity to the instructor,” he says. 

Anand additionally believed that the youngsters must also get the prospect to be taught outside, therefore he included the courtyards. 

“We additionally recognised that studying doesn’t solely occur throughout the classroom however extends past its partitions. Contemplating this, the presence of courtyards grew to become essential. Along with their academic significance, there have been sensible causes for incorporating courtyards,” he shares. 

“The realm experiences a sizzling and dry local weather, which will be difficult for college students with low imaginative and prescient delicate to direct gentle. To handle this, we ensured that the courtyard offers filtered gentle to the school rooms,” he provides. 

Oblique gentle was a major concern because the architect aimed to offer a snug studying surroundings for low-vision college students with minimal glare.

“To guard the low-vision college students from direct gentle glare, we determined to convey daylight from the roof and never from home windows,” he says. 

A haven for its college students, the varsity is also sustainable in its roots. “We determined to be very frugal with what we had been utilizing. We used solely locally-sourced supplies resembling Kota stone and planted greater than 1,000 vegetation of 37 totally different varieties,” he says. 

There are five special classrooms and seven classrooms with individual courtyards in the school.
There are 5 particular lecture rooms and 7 lecture rooms with particular person courtyards within the faculty.

Anand defined that he planted the shrubs to draw butterflies and birds, and to diversify and enhance the pure surroundings.

A standard rainwater harvesting approach generally known as Khambhati Kuva (Percolation properly) was applied. The properly, with a diameter of 10 toes and a depth of 30 toes, is designed to gather rainwater and recharge the bottom. This properly can take in 45,000 to 60,000 litres of water in only one hour.

Up and working since 2021, Anand says trying again at his work, “As knowledgeable, I strategy all tasks with the identical depth. Nevertheless, engaged on this challenge was distinctive. In our architectural schooling, we had by no means delved into questions on customers to this extent. It opened my eyes to the realisation that in designing any constructing, be it public buildings or total cities, we should think about a various set of customers, making certain that none are excluded.”

He provides, “The lesson of inclusivity that I realized from this expertise has profoundly influenced my strategy to new tasks, the place I try to include the dear insights gained from the varsity challenge.”

(Edited by Padmashree Pande)

(All picture credit score: SEAlabs)

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