A Gem in the Thar Desert
Located in the Thar Desert region of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, India – where female literacy barely touches 32% – the Rajkumari Ratnavati Girl’s School serves over 400 underprivileged girls with quality education from kindergarten all the way to class 10. This oval-shaped architectural feat was designed by Diana Kellogg /Architects/ in 2021, and is made entirely out of local Jaisalmer sandstone hand-carved by local craftspeople – reducing the carbon emissions associated with conventional building materials.
In a region where temperatures peak close to 120 degrees farenheit, the 836-square-metre structure remains a safe and heat-relieving learning sanctuary. The building features a large courtyard in the centre and provides shading from the sun while perforations in the stone walls maximise airflow. In the classrooms, clerestory openings provide natural lighting and ventilation throughout the day. This concept extends itself throughout the elliptical building.
Apart from combatting desert heat, the school maximises the use of solar to generate renewable energy. The solar canopy on the roof doubles as a playscape for the children. The walkway on the roof is made up of blue mosaic tiles, a reflection of the expansive open skies above and a stunning contrast to the yellow desert surroundings. The school building also incorporates water harvesting systems to collect and recycle rainwater, minimizing water consumption and waste.
The Rajkumari Ratnavati Girls’ School is not just a feast for the eyes – it is also a symbol of female empowerment, and an exemplar in sustainable school building design that acknowledges the urgency of the climate crisis and the potential of architecture to shape learning experiences.
As a community of practice for sustainability in schools, TASS hopes to feature best practices across its five focus areas in this new series. If there’s a school you would like us to feature next on #SpotlightByTASS, send your suggestions to [email protected].
Sources: ArchDaily, Archello, ARCHITECT Magazine, YourStory Media
Photos by Vinay Panjwani