Khosla Associates completes new facility for India's prestigious Doon School
When the new art school was conceptualised at the Doon School, it was decided that the building should look into the future and provide spaces that would become more relevant educationally over the years to come, that it should be inspirational in its looks and be informed by the tenets of green architecture. The new arts and media centre would include segments associated with the previous facility like studios for painting, sculpture, ceramics and textiles but would also house resources such as a library, a lecture hall, more galleries and display space, digital photography and video art, a publications centre, and a film studio.
The architects, Khosla Associates, have created a building and surrounding garden area that gives expression to these concerns. Integral to the concept is the journey of an artist, interpreted as a central axis that runs east-west along the entire length of the site; dissolving into the ample lung space of a landscaped garden. The building is viewed from the outside as a composition of abstract sculptural forms of varying material and texture (exposed wire-cut brick and olive coloured corrugated metal sheets emerging from a spine of yellow slate).
Internally, the axis is a double-height, 6-metre-wide gallery leading from both sides into studios and other functional requirements of the art department. The internal volumes are filled with a wonderful quality of north light via a series of skylights, while all studios open into courtyards allowing easy interaction with the outdoors and ample cross ventilation. The building is contextual in terms of its orientation and materiality as it interfaces the iconic 100-year-old English Renaissance inspired main school building and the rest of the brick architecture of the campus; it also uses local materials. The natural topography of the site is well preserved and negotiated and the east-west orientation of the built form and landscape reinforces the direction of the main building.
The building is energy efficient and has a TERI (The Energy and Resource Institute) Green Rating. Since the inauguration of the building in October 2010, the students have given it an overwhelming response. In the past few years about 20-30 boys a year elected to study art as part of the curriculum and this number has stepped up to 180 this year with the current facility. The building has also succeed in attracting top notch faculty from around the country and the quality of work coming out from the students is very encouraging.