Surviving in the middle of the Thar Desert in India is a feat in itself where daytime temperatures can soar to 50C (122F) and harsh winds carry sands that scrape the skin. But students are studying right in the middle of Thar thanks to a Sandstone School that has come up right inside the famous desert.
The Rajkumari Ratnavati Girls’ School is located near the famous Sam Dunes of Jaisalmer. Made of yellow sandstone, the school doesn’t need the air condition to keep it cool. The children can study and even play in the protected courtyard without any danger from the weather outside.
The Sandstone School Is Both A Visual Marvel And A Integrated Study Centre
The sandstone school is a visual masterpiece and blends in well with the stark beauty of the desert landscape. The building has been designed to keep in mind every aspect of sustainability. The Gyan Centre, the study section of the school, will accommodate 400 students of all age groups.
The sandstone schools also boast a performance hall and a textile museum. There is also an exhibition hall that will house artisans selling their crafts. A different part of the building will house women who will be trained in the traditional arts and crafts of Rajasthan to preserve the dying forms of traditional handicrafts.
The sandstone school was conceptualized by CITTA founder Michael Daube. It is a non-profit that works to support the girl child and has been supported by various individuals and organizations to make the dream possible.
Local help came from Jaisalmer Foundation president Manvendra Singh who arranged for the 22 acres needed for the sandstone school. Admission will be offered to poor children of the surrounding areas. The facilities in the sandstone school include a library, a computer center. Buses will take the children from the nearby villages to school every day. The children will also be provided midday meals to help with their nutrition.
Diana Kellogg, the designer of the building, was inspired by the architecture of the region. She relied on models of sustainability inspired by the surroundings. The canopy of the sandstone school has been designed to keep the sand and the heat out. The wind flow pattern cools down the building without having to resort to air conditioning. There is also a provision to harvest 350,000 liters of water inside the complex. The project was started in 2018 and completed within a year. The school session is expected to start in 2021.