Architectural Design > Institution Design > Sir J High school, Lakhtar

The project was funded by the PM Relief Fund and was a part of School Rehabilitation Project taken up by CEPT, Ahmedabad. This involved complete re-designing of the existing high school at Lakhtar. An important consideration was the earthquake resistance design required in buildings built post-earthquake all over Gujarat.

The site of Sir J High school is located within the fort wall, just inside of the 'Athamno or the west gate' of the village. There are roads on three sides and a private residence on the East Side separated by a nullah. The site is gently sloping from the south to the north. There is a nullah to the northern and eastern side, which carries the surface run off during the rainy season.

Primary built form of the village comprises of load bearing walls covered by gabled/pitched roof out of wooden truss and covered with Morbi Tiles. Most of the buildings rise up to a maximum of two floors above ground. To avoid the harsh sun, very few structures face west. The upper floor is projected by about a metre in most cases. This end is towards the street and it comprises of panelling out of wood and brick infill wall. This thus forms the façade of the building towards the street side. The other end however continues to be load-bearing wall.

The attitude taken for this project was a strong belief in the traditional load bearing structures, especially, since the area requirement didn't require one to go high. Thus, a building reflecting the local architecture with a gable roof was preferred over conventional RCC buildings with deep foundations. Brick wall over stone plinth walls and Corrugated Cement sheets and steel truss were the main building materials.

There were three buildings within the Sir J High School. First building (to the south of the site) was built in 1911 (and is identified as Bldg. 1), second and third in 1926 and is identified as Bldg. 2 and 3 respectively. All the building had been altered and modified over the period of time and by various agencies from local contractor to the State PWD after independence.

The design brief outlined repairs and retrofitting of the existing buildings and suggestion for demolition if needed besides provision for the expansion and growth of the school for the next decade (estimated at an increased in strength of students by about 200; bringing the total strength to 700 from the existing 481). The school though originally a co-ed in imparting education is now going to be only for boys since Lakhtar has a separate girls' school.

Building no. 1 suffered damages to its wings. Also due to the alteration made upon it before it had lost its original character. We therefore decided to alter the building completely and house all the new facilities at the same place. This building would now house the classrooms. With the side wings demolished, the central hall that housed the library is now being converted into a court, open to sky; with old walls surrounding it. The new classrooms are formed around this court. The wall will form one part of the passage linking the two wings of the new construction physically and with the old building to the new metaphysically. This court is envisaged as a meeting place for the school children during their play hours and also as a place for a small formal gathering. Though open to sky and the elements, the high walls forming the court gave a sense of shelter and institutional scale. Also the old opening that once opened into the library and connected the rooms of the wings are converted as seats and gateway to the court.

The relationship between the old and the new is established by the language of fenestration; height control; regulation of the plinths and formal composition.

However, due to unforeseen reasons, the project was not built as per the drawings.