Home » June 2007

Building as learning aid

2 April 2010 18 Comments

Reviewed by Ruksana Karaka

bala-cover
School is the first major external space a toddler steps into which ultimately is going to determine her tomorrow. It is therefore most crucial to build this space with care, in a manner that will contribute to moulding her into a fine individual. While today many schools are built with the child’s comfort in mind, a school that is “designed” for learning by the very fact of its design is perhaps something not many architects would think of. This is exactly what Vinyas an NGO that “reshapes” schools, aims to do. And this is what architect Kabir Vajpeyi of Vinyas, describes in the book Building as Learning Aid (BALA). School is, metaphorically, a place of learning, but why, as BALA describes, can it not become literally, a learning space as well?

Children are forever on the quest for learning –asking questions and probing for answers. For most people, to see is to believe and this certainly works with children. They tend to grasp the subject content with greater ease and intensity once it is presented before them, conveying its importance and connection in day-to-day life.

Building as Learning Aid emphasises the importance of the physical space of the school in making learning a constant and exciting journey. An innovative physical environment can introduce a new dimension to the educational experience beyond the black and white humdrum of textbooks, making the content of learning more vivid and enlivening. Children love to engage in physical activity, from pushing around furniture to scribbling excessively on walls. And why not? Children’s spaces should be built to accommodate such spontaneous activity.

Vajpeyi suggests inscribing the height and weight of the furniture on the furniture itself to sharpen their senses of measurement. Marking the weight of chairs and benches will mean that they can now know their potential to push and carry. Space can be provided up to a certain level on the walls for the children to exhibit their creativity – they suggest, for instance, a “Word Wall” on which children can write down new and difficult words they have learnt. In one of the schools “reshaped” by Vajpeyi and the Vinyas team, puzzles were painted on the floors and walls for children to scribble on.

Beyond the four walls, learning is further enhanced in a fun way on the playgrounds by utilising every nook and corner on educating them on subjects varying from conservation of water and gas to public etiquette. BALA provides examples of interesting ideas like a map of the school in a place where everyone has access, thereby increasing their sense of direction. The book provides a host of other eco-friendly ideas for schools to implement without too much expense or trouble, and just a bit of commitment. A sundial in the courtyard shows them how time is told as shadows grow across the school. The corridors can be efficiently used by laying down multiplication tables along the floor and a cosy corner can be constructed exclusively for book worms.

The Vinyas team has come up with some 150 design ideas based on an understanding of child psychology. These range from inexpensive playground equipment to use of common spaces in schools, to simply colouring up the walls and floors to make the school look exciting and inviting. Showcased in an attractive and simple layout in the book, these ideas can go a long way in turning our schools into spaces of joyful learning.

Ruksana Karaka is a student of architecture in Secunderabad.

Building as learning aid
Developing school space as learning resource
by Kabir Vajpeyi

bala-logo
For queries regarding this book, write to
Head, Bala Team, Vinyas, Centre for Architectural Research and Design,
C-60, Anupam CGHS, Plot B-13, Vasundhara Enclave, Delhi-110096.
Email: vinyas@nda.vsnl.net.in

18 Comments »

  • Ridhi said:

    The email address given in the article doesn’t work. I would like to find out more about the book. Any guidance will be MUCH appreciated.

    Thanks in advance :)

  • divya (author) said:

    Hi,

    Here is the email id of the founder of BaLA and author of the book, you can write to him to know more about the book and the concept: vinyascentre@yahoo.co.uk

    Best,
    Teacher Plus

  • Ashwin Dharmadhikari said:

    Hi,
    I tried searching for the schools designed but i din’t get it.Can you give me a list of the schools that have been designed and where?

  • divya (author) said:

    Hi,

    Here is the email id of the founder of BaLA and author of the book, you can write to him to know more about the book and the concept: vinyascentre@yahoo.co.uk

    Best,
    Teacher Plus

  • Bharati jadhav said:

    hi,
    this is bharati jadhav I am constructing a co-ed school in goa I would like to find out more about the designs of the school also would love to have a copy of BaLA please let me know how?thanks

  • divya (author) said:

    Hi,

    Here is the email id of the founder of BaLA, you can write to him to know more about the book and the concept: vinyascentre@yahoo.co.uk

    Best,
    Teacher Plus

  • azaria said:

    I really appreciated. But it will be very useful to me if all the contents of the Book is with me in soft copy. Because I am now constructing new Schools Environment in my state.

  • Iman kalyan said:

    hi, i am searching some of building plan for children school, which help them as Bala help them. can you send some sujation or a good plan.

  • Amar Singh Yadav said:

    The email address given in the article doesn’t work. I would like to find out more about the book. Any guidance will be much appreciated. I want to buy this book. Please help me.

  • Suman Kumar Dhar said:

    In My School at pandua, Hooghly, 60,000/- Rupees are ready for BALA, and somewhere I use it, and the reparkation from the students are wonderful.

  • We don’t need no education « The Opinions Blog said:

    [...] the use of BaLa. In fact, Kabir Vajpayee, a Prinicipal Architect at Vinyãs has also written a book on the subject, in case any of the readers wish to learn more on the [...]

  • Suman Kumar Dhar said:

    Recently we prepare a material about BaLA, named ” A project material About Building as Learning Aid”, and here I printed all the presentation made by kabir ji and his team Vinyas with Help of Unicef. Here all the head of education authority was very much impressed. So for development I need this Book. Can you say how I get it?

  • kundan mahajan said:

    Recently we prepare a material about BaLA, and here I printed all the presentation made by kabir ji and his team Vinyas with Help of Unicef. Here all the head of education authority was very much impressed. So for development of my school I need this Book.in marathi copy Can you say how I get it?

  • bharati said:

    I have gone through this wonderful book, full of innovative ideas and am looking forward to introduce it tomorrow in our teachers group meeting( paathsabha) . I hope maximum teachers and schools make use of this book as a hand book to make our school a healthy, joyful place to gain knowledge

  • Ranjita Rao said:

    I need the contact number and address of Mr. Vajpeyi please as we are planning to construct a school in 5 acres for year 2014. We would be glad if he can be our architect.

  • shadakshari.Tarabenahalli said:

    Its wonderful…. happy to see such a link for my required information pool.
    My best regards
    Shadakshari.

  • Nimit Jain said:

    I am student of architecture and doing my thesis ….and i need this book “BALA” but i am not able to get it in market….kindly let me know how can i get this book….please revert…
    Thanks,
    Nimit

  • sasank nagasai said:

    sir u guys r doing great job

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