BAJAJ SCIENCE EDUCATIONAL CENTER

Wardha, Maharashtra, India

The Bajaj Science Centre is an educational facility situated on the urban periphery of Wardha town, a growing service center of about a hundred thousand people, who’s nearby villages have an equal population. The science center was created to ameliorate a total lack of appropriate science education in the Wardha District. In this region where Mahatma Gandhi resided, the culture is one of simplicity, natural and honest expressions and empiricism, which are translated into the architecture of this ground level structure. The center is composed of an Exhibition Space; a small Auditorium; a Library; a Classroom; a Darkroom; a Physics Laboratory; a Chemistry Laboratory; a Biology Laboratory; an Applied Science Laboratory and offices.

The architectural strategy was to create a fabric of parallel walls that carry concrete vaults.  This fabric was articulated through the creation of interlocking courtyards surrounded by vaulted arcades and verandahs. The connections between the elongated entrance courtyard, the central connecting court with the multi function hall and reading room and the interior courtyard surrounded by laboratories and scientific facilities were accomplished with vault-covered passages. The result is a sequence of spaces that are closed and in subdued light, open to sky courtyards and open on one-side arcades and verandahs. There are open to sky courtyards for learning and sharing ideas.

This complex of 3,300 Square Meters includes an outdoor gathering space that accommodates three hundred people for public programmes, and a general library for the public created from a refurbished bungalow, belonging to the Jamnalal Bajaj family. The small complex is made from local burnt brick and arched ceilings, with no external plaster or paint. Local Shahabad stone is used in courtyards and inexpensive Kota stone for interior flooring.

Located in the geographic center of India, Mahatma Gandhi settled nearby in Sevagram Ashram from 1936 until he was assassinated in 1948. The area has a deep history of rulers from the Delhi Sultanate to the Maratha Kings and the city is interspersed with mosques, temples, gurudwaras, churches and viharas.

Though there are many schools within Wardha District, it was found that few had operable science teaching laboratories and that the teacher capability was low. On the other hand youngsters yearned for knowledge in the sciences that would afford them a more satisfying life and employment opportunities. Located in a drought prone area, education has proven an escape from poverty and degradation, and here the science center plays a unique role, serving as a national educational model. Created in 2008, the Science Centre reaches students from 26 schools within its nearby catchment area and, spreads out to schools in an area of about twenty kilometers distance, from where students bus into the center. The center attracts about five hundred students, who come voluntarily to learn science in a student friendly, non-obtrusive manner, from mid-afternoon on into the night.  Morning hours are spent by the center’s faculties mentoring in nearby schools and in the training of trainers. The students are roughly equally balanced between boys and girls, and represent the diverse communities that emerged here over the centuries.

 

LocationWardha, Maharashtra, India

Built Up Area3,065 Square Meters

Site Area9 Acres

Completion2010

Client

Gandhi Gyan Mandir, Wardha

Prime Contractor

Q3 Constructions, Nagpur

Services

Structural Design : Vastech

Landscape Design : CCBA Designs, Pune

MEP Design : Natekar Associates and Rahul Dhadphale

Construction Management : Timande and Chavan

 

Photos

Ramprasad Akkisetti and Deepak Kaw

Design Team

Prof. Christopher Benninger, Daraius Choksi, Rahul Sathe, Chhavi Lal and Bhushan Pise

Awards

2012   Artists in Concrete Awards Asia 2012

Architecture Educational

 2014   Archidesign Architecture  Awards 2014,

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