Author – Mitali Khatokar
It is hard to find green buildings in India that cater to the needs of low cost housing or affordable buildings. Typically, any LEED-certified green building or GRIHA-certified house will end up being a costly project managed by larger builders and developers. There are very few low cost green buildings that use appropriate technology and local material to build houses. However, Paranga Vidya Kendra is an exception to the case, not only in its concept but also its looks!
Located in the fringes of Bengaluru city, Paranga Vidya Kendra stands out against the muddy landscape of Magadi Taluk in Ramanagara District, with pyramid-like structures that are visible over the tree tops. The school is an offshoot program run by Paranga Charitable Trust, a non-profit organization, which is funded by various philanthropists and institutions. The school provides elementary education to children from rural localities of Magadi Taluk. However, while it is no different from any other school run by voluntary organizations, the school building is undoubtedly unique.
The classrooms of Paranga Vidya Kendra are built in the form of pyramid structures, which are designed into typical classrooms for students for imbibing effective techniques of teaching in a rural environment. According to the Paranga Charitable Trust’s managing trustee M.R.Rama Murthy, the school is designed in such a manner that comes with strong traditional and scientific reasoning; moreover it is an architectural marvel. The structure has a regular stone and concrete foundation base and a steel framing, on which terracotta tiles are placed as roofing.
The concept is based on traditional beliefs regarding the capacity of a pyramid to create energy and circulate its flow. Most conical or pyramidal shaped structures are aligned to the principles of self-actualization, creativity and spirituality, which are also observed in other buildings for prayers and worship – like temples, churches and mosques. Scientific reasoning for the pyramid structures relates to the creation and reaching out to cosmic energy – thereby, constructing or generating strong energy flows. These flows are believed to be a combination of electro-magnetic and cosmic waves in the universe that enhances spiritual growth, knowledge and health.
Adopting this principle, the school has built 10 pyramid structures for hosting classes, canteen, meditation and an auditorium for cultural programs. The 30 feet x 30 feet pyramids are equipped with strategically placed glass panes that not only bring in ample sunlight inside the classrooms, but also help in ventilation. Visitors to Paranga Vidya Kendra can observe that these unique structures have managed to create an energetic environment for teaching.
The school’s students revel in this system of open class rooms that instantly reminds us of the ancient gurukul system of education in India, wherein the children sat in the open landscape, below the canopy of trees providing for an open space, that allowed the free flow of knowledge and learning. Similarly, the gardens serve not only as a playground for the children, but also provide a serene environment for teachers and visitors alike. It was a surprise for me to find a few students studying or writing their exams out in the open garden by the greenery of the plants and trees that surround their pyramid class rooms.
Besides dispelling the negative flows of energy, these pyramid structures also prove to be ideal structure for rainwater harvesting, since rain water can run smoothly down the slopes into the waiting buckets placed below. The school also has a solar-powered water tank and water dispensers with bio sand filters, which is the most cost effective method of water purification. Teaching the students about such concepts of environmental preservation and appropriate technology is the main objective of the organization.
With a social responsibility of educating young minds, ideas of the most simplest forms to conserve energy and the environment, enhancing awareness of conservation and preservation of the same inspires the needs and working of those living in that environment. Paranga Vidya Kendra’s concept of education goes hand-in-hand with nature where ideal models of water conservation and purification are inculcated in the hearts of the rural community, which will nurture the environment for the future.