Bawana, Haryana, India and Kolkata, West Bengal, India

The SOS Children’s Villages in India were an outcome of a social in Europe to care for orphans after the Second World War. The campuses in Bawana and Kolkata were the second and third such orphanages created in the sub-continent.

Each village is composed of a headmaster’s house, a clinic, a library, a community hall, utility buildings and twenty Houses. Each house accommodates eight children and a housemother.  Thus, there are ideally one hundred and eighty children, and twenty housemothers, living in twenty homes. The mothers are recruited from amongst young widowed women, who receive special training in parenting. They are assisted by aunties who take their places during leaves. Foster parents across India and abroad adopt these children, paying for their up-keep, and often sponsoring their further education. These villages become the lifelong homes of the children and mothers, who return during college breaks, festivals and vacations.


Located in Bawana Village fifty kilometers from Delhi, this small campus is designed around a central village square. Narrow paths lead through four portals into four neighborhood plazas, which in turn lead into domestic courtyards of five houses. Thus, the campus is conceived as a hierarchy of social spaces, where a child can find their own comfort leel, either alone in their bedroom reading, in the family courtyard or common room playing, in the neighborhood plaza, or in the village square. The entire village is laid out on parallel lines, over which brick bearing walls are built, 3.4 meters on center, and brick arched ceiling vaults span above these ground level spaces. The houses were composed of room modules of 3.4 meters by 4.3 meters each, with the brick vaults arching over the short dimension. The internal domestic courtyard is likewise composed of four modules. The entire village is composed of enclosed and open to sky modules, and all of the open passages, squares, plazas and courtyards are created from clustering these modules into various open and covered spaces. Pedestrian paths, of 3.4 meters width, connect the community pavilion at the entry with the central village square, and likewise interlink the village square with the neighborhood plazas.


The SOS Children’s Village in Kolkata emerged as a call from Mother Teresa to shelter the parentless children emerging from the freedom movement and subsequent war in Bangladesh. This village followed the same building programme, module sizes and room areas as the Bawana Village. Unlike the Bawana village, the Kolkata village is located within a dense urban fabric, on a city block, with vehicular roads surrounding it. Thus, an identical set of functions in an identical building programme was expressed in a completely different architectural language and spatial system, responding to a new urban context. The pedestrian movement system in Kolkata, through gardens and the sloped red tile roofs, amongst exposed brick walls, contrasted with the white stucco plastered walls, with vaults covered with white China mosaic vaults in Bawana.

LocationBawana, Haryana, India and Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Built Up Area3,500 Square Meters

Site Area12.4 Acres ( Bawana) and 8 Acres (Kolkata)



SOS Children’s Villages



Prime Contractor

Regional Engineers


Structural Design : Narayan Swamy and Kishore P. Lavingia


Ramprasad Akkisetti and Deepak Kaw


Design Team

Prof. Christopher Benninger, Navin Ghorecha, Vallabh Ghorecha, Parisima Dave, Mukul Sheth, Ashwin Malisha, Bhupen Poonatar and Rajni Chavda