This simplistic, square building is an agriculture training centre in the rural area of Nimblak, Maharashtra, India. Built for the marginal farmers’ children, its purpose is to enable rural youth, the next generation of farmers, to learn various new agricultural techniques through short duration courses. The building, designed by the Indian architectural firm Studio Advaita is the brainchild of the NGOs the Syngenta foundation and the Snehalaya Organisation.
The training centre is a place for getting information about soil, climate and crops for the nearby villagers. The centre arranges exhibitions of students’ research which can be accessed and viewed by the local farmers.
The basic square plan and central open space are derived from traditional local structures called wada, found in nearby cities like Ahmednagar. A wada is typically a large building of two or more storeys with groups of rooms arranged around open courtyards.
The internal rooms of this building are striking, most notably for their stark cuboid shape and the walls which are stained a deep, ochre red. A daring hand has spliced through the roof space to cut out a corner of the room allowing daylight to penetrate the space. It’s a clever idea, having indirect light to reduce the consumption of electricity. The vista of blue skies and clouds that the cut-out affords, viewed as they are against the blank, red canvas of the internal walls, reads like a surreal painting.
Building materials were carefully selected in order to reduce the overall cost of the project and to sit in harmony with adjacent surrounding structures. Grey and coloured fly ash bricks were used to construct the external walls. The construction of an external cavity brick wall was used to provide heat insulation.
What is most notable about this building is the simplicity in its design statement. It uses colour, geometric shapes and thoughtful application of materials to make it more than just a box to fill up with people. But more than that, it addresses affordability and financial sustainability. And it does all of the above so well that it completes its task admirably in providing what good architecture should always hope to achieve, a working aesthetic space for the community it represents.
[Images courtesy of Studio Advaita.]