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Educational Institution Architecture and Student Psychology

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The immediate, visceral response is always triggered by sensory stimuli, such as the stark institutional lighting, the piercing bell at the end of a period, or the rumbling of feet leaving the building at the end of the day.

Or if everything is based on emotion—the anxiety on the first day, the learning with new teachers or the berating by them, the ecstasy when recess starts.

Typically, memories of school remain anchored to the event. The location, the structure, the classrooms, and everything else around it serves as a backdrop, making you question the significance of the facility where you spent the most formative years of your upbringing.

The quick response is that it does. Perhaps the imprint of that place called the school, which has persisted and made a home for itself in the back of the mind, is more telling than the institution itself.

The volumes and voids, enclosed areas and open fields that make up a school's architecture have an unfathomable, intangible impact on how we learn, interact, and are influenced.

 When Louis Kahn was given the job of constructing the now-famous Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad (IIMA), which was recently saved from being consigned to the ruins of a bygone era, he knew it.

At the core of this choice was education and how it should be delivered. Many prolific architects based in India claim that the IIMA is the "gold standard" for academic design.

 A grounding space for those formative encounters, Kahn's brilliant weaving of firmness and transparency delivers a safe and open environment at the same time.

IIM Ahmedabad Campus

 A New Way of Learning

A group of businessmen first approached Harvard Business School in 1961 with the idea of creating a school that would train the next generation in certain professions that would help India's fledgling industries expand.

The plan was to create a school that included debates and an environment that encouraged open communication between students and teachers regarding the idea of western-style learning.

Learning has always depended on the most effective framework, even down to the materials used to build it. The structure must be elevated via thoughtful design and material consideration, particularly for a place of learning.

When designing, you must be careful to respect cultural norms while incorporating new technologies. The two work together to provide the kids with more agency and a sense of security.

Building Minds

Architects who are aware of their surroundings have always recognised the relevance of academic building design, as have educators and those who are committed to developing future generations' minds and see the worth of starting young.

Since young minds are created in academic institutions, we cannot undervalue the influence these institutions' designs may have on the development of these minds. the study of how our experiences and surroundings affect who we are.

In this environment, people create their individuality and discover their place in the group, and they need to be supported by design that fosters that experience. 

We certainly do not lack a lengthy and enduring history to look to and learn from in a world that has been significantly benefited by the works of legends who grasped this responsibility of architecture at a very intuitive level and handled it with wonderful grace.

Kahn's IIMA and Doshi's Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) in Ahmedabad are examples of India's contributions to that legacy. 

The campus of CEPT is a shining example of how inner and exterior, as well as the private and public, are subtly woven together.

Balkrishna Doshi, School of Architecture, Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology, Ahmedabad, 1968.

Nature—and Nurture

Architecture is not just visually appealing; it is also haptic, entwined with spatial relationships and temporal body movements. I think that the way we behave and how we think and feel about things is influenced by architecture.

When it comes to learning, stimulating the intellect, and encouraging discoveries, it assumes a significantly greater significance since the elasticity between named places and unidentified spaces supports the way we connect and the surrounding environment.

The fluidity between clearly defined locations and liminal areas is, in my opinion, the most significant design consideration. Learning extends outside the four walls of the classroom, to use a cliche.

It's not just about a teacher talking to students who are passively listening in a static connection. Learning is largely about discovery and letting the mind roam.

To foster an environment that fosters the desire to learn, a large part of that includes building physical locations that stimulate, cultivate, and prod the latent curiosity present in all of us.

Curious people are more likely to learn, investigate, and start conversations when there are varying tempos of movement interspersed with periods of quiet. Therefore, academic institutions should be built so that the intellect has room to explore and wander.

In this aspect, Rabindranath Tagore's Shantiniketan was so far ahead of its time that we should revisit and reintegrate it into our turbulent times.

While Shantiniketan was undoubtedly ahead of its time, it was also based on the tradition of India's gurukul system, in which students resided in their guru's modest home away from towns and in the middle of nature, who served as both a teacher and a pupil.

A Look Back for the Way Ahead

Such well-planned and well-designed institutions are at play with nature, light, and open spaces—valuable weapons in the toolbox of the thinking architect and formidable components of any durable construction. 

Massed volumes and staggered connections that permit light to circulate across broad halls and corridors allude to a sublime dance that emerges from a sensitivity to the surroundings.

The Gautam Buddha University in Noida, which is spread out across 500 acres, contains much of it. It was designed by CP Kukreja. To escape the mundane and unimportant of the world outside and into the educational setting, they established an urban forest.

This supports the assumption that academic institutions focus on the proper kind of communication in addition to having an impact on learning. 

The design of their educational institutions makes it simple to convey the crucial message to the young people who will make up

our society's future.

Pathways World School Aravalli, designed by CP Kukreja

Delhi Public School Society’s HRD Centre was designed by CP Kukreja.

The company, which for the past 50 years has concentrated on intelligent, studied architecture that mines regional contexts to produce enduring structures is proven by its projects, such as the Pathways World School Aravalli in Gurgaon, which demonstrate its approach and execution.

They didn't want to confine the learning of their students to only their classrooms or disciplines like history and art appreciation. As a result, there are numerous sculptures, art pieces, and antiques scattered around the entire site. 

The feedback received from the administrators was fantastic because students started learning about and appreciating art as they passed by these pieces every day in the hallways.

Learnings and Inferences

The idea that context, circumstance, state of mind, and environment have a significant impact on learning is not a novel one. 

Deep scientific research has confirmed the significance of a wide range of factors that affect learning, including the colours used in kindergarten and primary schools, which have a sizable impact. 

Through the volumes of the spaces, functions of the rooms, cleverness in their layout, restraint in building, and being guided by nature and context.

Architecture, academia, and learning have maybe assumed greater significance and call for deeper thought in a world coming to terms with isolation in a post-pandemic era where such academic institutions became high-risk environments due to intimate contact and the sheer quantity of individuals moving about.

The relationship between architecture and learning is a long-standing fact that, if embraced and applied, can help improve education. A lot of astute architects who consider the larger picture and work for the greater good continue to do it.

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