Girls’ School in the Middle of the Thar Desert is an Architectural Marvel

Can you imagine children studying in the middle of the Thar desert, where day temperatures peak close to 50 degrees & harsh winds cause sand to blow through the day?

In the heart of the Thar Desert in the Indian state of Rajasthan, New York-based architect Diana Kellogg has built Rajkumari Ratnavati Girls School for the city of Jaisalmer.

Rajkumari Ratnavati Girl’s School serves more than 400 girls, from kindergarten to class 10, from below the poverty line residing in the mystic Thar Desert region of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, India.

This school will educate girls of nearby villages coming from the underprivileged sectors. The oval shape of the building is a symbol of female strength.

The building is designed so that even if the outside temperature is above 50 degrees, the temperature inside the school does not exceed 18-20 degrees.

The Rajkumari Ratnavati Girl’s School is designed by a non-profit organization that supports development in some of the most economically challenged, geographically remote, or marginalized communities in the world.

 

Inside, the school is furnished with pieces made from local rosewood and Charpai woven seating, a traditional bed technique used across South Asia. In addition to the culturally conscious architecture, Indian fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee designed uniforms for the girls using Ajrak, a form of block printing native to the region.

The school is the first in a complex of three buildings known as the GYAAN Center, which will also consist of The Medha – a performance and art exhibition space with a library and museum, and The Women’s Cooperative where local artisans will teach mothers and other women weaving and embroidery techniques from the region.

Running a state-based curriculum, the facilities will include classrooms, a library, a computer center, and a bus facility to transport girls from neighboring villages. The school will also provide a midday-meal program to ensure proper nutrition for the students as well as lessen families’ financial burden.

While girls are receiving an education at the Girls School, local artisans will teach mothers and other women weaving and embroidery techniques from the Jaisalmer region that is on the verge of being forgotten and lost. These lessons will preserve and enhance traditional techniques while establishing economic independence for the women, their families, and their communities.

GYAAN Center is designed by a woman for women, Kellogg looked at feminine symbols across cultures when starting the design process – specifically symbols of strength, landing on a structure of three ovals to represent the power of femininity and infinity, as well as replicate the planes of the sand-dunes in the region of Jaisalmer.

The GYAAN Center will invite renowned female artists, designers education advocates to create artwork, host events, and present installations.

The space will also periodically act as a marketplace to share the women’s creations with tourists venturing to the nearby dunes to experience the sunset.

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