India-based architecture studio, GRAHA’s proposal ‘Terre à Terre’ draws inspiration from the vernacular architecture of the “dialo impluviums” and “cases obus”. The proposal won honorable mention in the Earth School Competition held by Archstorming in partnership with the NGO Kakolum.
Approach and Process
The approach and process for the design of Terre à Terre were greatly influenced by the philosophy and work of Kakolum, along with understanding the context and sensitive impact of the project on the community.
The following were the objectives of the design:
– Develop buildings as a community resource
– Facilitate community participation and engagement
– Ensure the project is socially, culturally, economically, and environmentally sustainable
– Reduce, reuse, recycle
Based on these, the aim was to design a system, not just a building.
The design uses Earth excavated from sunken courtyards for rammed earth walls that draw its structural characters from the “Sudano Sahelian Architecture”. Recycled tyres for the reinforcement of the excavated earth help form the foundation of the building blocks, which is finished with recycled broken tiles on the shaded corridors. This helps improve structural stability while responding well to the climate in terms of wind movement and varying surface exposure to the exterior. The use of sinusoidal walls helps create spaces for seating and storage at sill level inside and outside the classrooms. It also helps increase the surface area for the lintel to rest the wooden trusses. The insides of classrooms are finished with Rammed Earth.
The vernacular study of the region helped with the design of stepped and sunken courtyards serving as spaces for play, markets, gathering, and performances during dry seasons and ephemeral wetlands during monsoons collecting water from surface run-offs and roofs. The connected building blocks help zone purposes with public and semi-public courtyards and the different farming zones.
Farming and energy
While woven bamboo is used as the main tensile. Roofing member, Raffia fabric is used as external screens for shaded play areas and Manjak fabric is used as a ceiling element within the classrooms. The colorful canoes are used in public spaces as seats and temporary containers for seasonal markets.
Terre à Terre creates a sustainable learning environment where resource conservation coexists with culture, art, and people molded on Earth.