Learning environments are ever-evolving and changing. There is a growing awareness among societies and culture for preschools to be diverse and provide open learning environments. As learning spaces refocus on team-based, interdisciplinary learning, they are moving away from standardized, one-size-fits-all approach to teaching. Instead, it is becoming a norm that students learn in a variety of ways, and the differences should be supported. The students often learn better by doing it themselves, so teachers are there to facilitate, not just to instruct. Here the built environment becomes an enabler and a catalyst to nurture the young minds of preschool students.
CollectiveProject, a young Bangalore based practice was engaged for an opportunity in Kanakpura, to design Ekya Early Years a preschool for Montessori and kindergarten children in an abandoned watch factory on an overgrown two acre site. The industrial looking structure which was in major disrepair was stabilized and made suitable for a school. The existing building’s frame and shell were left intact and modifications were made to create a connection between the interior and exterior spaces.
Montessori education is an interactive model of learning that emphasizes on independence, freedom within limits and respect for a child’s natural, physical and social development. The architect’s have responded to this brief deftly by firstly repurposing the existing shell of the building into a spacious environment and ensuring that natural light permeates through the structure. The architecture is simplified to engage and be free of clutter to ease the interaction between the built environment and the natural surroundings. Blessed with an overgrown site the architects have exercised their creative freedom ironically within the set framework of the existing building but allowing them to express and react to the Montessori model form the children’s vision and at their scale.