The Dutch foundation Pani commissioned SchilderScholte architects to design an community centre in the north Bengal town of Rajarhat. The architects couple embraced this pro bono assignment coming from ideological motives and knowledge sharing. During the design process attention was mainly focused on locally available materials and weather conditions. The starting point was to realize a building using materials and skills from within a 25 km radius from the site. The drive was to encourage locals to become aware on the basic principles of sustainability. In effect close to zero electricity or fossil fuels were used during construction and other necessities required for erecting this building.
Some biomimicry elements are put on the test here! The brick-built volumes are all plastered and partly painted. The interior walls are coloured in light blue, a hue that flies shun. The splay of the classroom windows are painted yellow, a hue that specific insects dislike. Yellow also refers to the flowers of the mustard plant, a crop that colors large parts of the country from December to January. Grey and black in turn refer to the color of the Bengal earth before and after rainfall.
The floor plan (24x32m) is east-west oriented and consists of two volumes under a large bamboo roof structure. On the south side we find the classrooms and on the north side the workshop and store. Two sight lines traverse the building in all four directions. The lifting of the roof high above the volumes, creating a dropped ceiling, has achieved a considerable reduction of heat build up within the spaces. Further cooling is provided by cross ventilation, surrounding vegetation and the nearby pond. With the completion of this striking design we have proved that conventional local resources and materials can be used to build a successful environmentally friendly building.