[dropcap size=big]M[/dropcap]umbai-based architecture firm Sameep Padora & Associates (sP+a) have recently completed this brick vaulted library for a school in Kopargaon, a town in the state of Maharashtra, India. The structure sits between the school’s existing buildings and as such occupies a narrow footprint. This informed the conception of the design which is basically an extension of the ground plane. This in turn creates a seemingly monolithic structure that subtly rises from the ground and is essentially a part of the landscape, more like a mound of brick as opposed to a building.
The site chosen for this small addition within a school in rural Maharashtra, was a small sliver between existing buildings and the school boundary almost preempting a linear building footprint to adjust the program for the chosen site. The project was designed in the year 2015 but lay unbuilt for 2 years. Alluding to the intuitive impetus that children have towards landscape we imagined the library building to be a formal extension of the ground, using brick as material for its tactility, availability as well as its utility as insulation against the strong sun.
The construction technology for the project makes a case to reexamine the age-old binaries of the global and local as being in opposition. The regional or the local within the South Asian paradigm manifests within strict formal constraints of the style in memory. This is often at the expense of material efficiencies and is embedded in inequitable labor practices that continue to persist.
Our effort to search for a material and construction efficiency in brick looked to leverage the networks of knowledge that our practices are situated in, allowing us to enrich the regional or local through the extended capacities of the global. In the Sharda library we used a hybrid of principles ranging from the Catalan Tile Vaulting sytem to the compression ring detail from the work of Eladio Dieste in Uruguay, to using a form finding software plug -in made in Switzerland.
So the Sharda Library is made of local materials informed by appropriated technologies beyond the geographical extents of our physical location. This project ratifies the fact that while our sites and projects might lie beyond the urban extent they don’t lie beyond the networks of urbanization and can benefit from this.