The Disha School is for intellectually and physically disabled children. It was founded by Disha Foundation, which is a charitable organisation formed in aid of these special children. The Disha School was carrying out its operations in a rented building for the last few years. Being a charitable organisation, they didn't have resources for purchasing large and open land, which forced the development to be in the form of a multi-storeyed building in a tight urban site.
The design for the school was guided primarily by the needs of the special child, his access, safety and comfort. As an institution of learning and training, the building design provides a lively environment for two important needs; a sense of community under the shelter of a roof, and a sense of independence and flexibility for the use of individual activity spaces.
The entrance forecourt has been designed as a play garden and an outdoor gathering space, with the curved facade of the building acting as a backdrop to the stage. All ground floor rooms have outdoor extensions under the shade of trees, and the rooms on the upper floors and the library have access to terraces, shaded with pergola. On entering the building, children arrive into an all-weather Centre Court, which is used for playing and exercising. This court becomes the integral part of all activities by connecting all floors visually and involving people on upper floors in the activity on the ground floor.
Gently-sloped ramps circum-ambulate around the central court, and the buiding rises in comfortable stages with places for pause and rest along the way. The activity spaces on each floor are separated from these ramps by corridors, which act as buffer space. The corridors have display boards on the outer walls of class rooms, which are formed on the back of cabinets of the class room, thus cutting off the noise from the central space, completely.
All workrooms have glare-free natural light from a window system designed for even distribution of day-light, thus eliminating the need of artificial lighting during day. The air-cooling system is interlaced with structural system. The workspaces are air-cooled through vertical ducts coming down from rooftop coolers. The building envelope is designed to keep the interiors cool in summers, warm in winters and well-ventilated during the monsoon season.
Particular care is taken for fire-safety, considering the difficulties of movement for the physically challenged. There are numerous fire escape routes and exits from the building. Additionally, the terrace spaces provide fire-safe zones on each floor.
The building seeks to contribute its share of environment stimuli that the young minds at Disha School are enjoying. The play of light, colour, texture to touch and feel and fragrance are integrated into the building fabric. And most importantly, a strong presence is given to trees, creepers, flowering plants; to reflect the cycle of seasons and to invite butterflies, birds and squirrels to make their homes at Disha.