‘Around the world, most secondary schools share a similar design: There are hallways that lead to classrooms, a front and back entrance, a cafeteria, and a gymnasium.
Near Chennai, India, a new boarding school called Riverbend aims to rethink traditional architecture — and curricula — in education. Instead of one large, central building, the campus will include more than a dozen smaller facilities that are designed to focus on a range of subjects, including math, entrepreneurship, literature, art, meditation, history, and physical education.
The goal is to prioritize the middle and high school students’ happiness rather than grades, Riverbend School’s lead architect, Danish Kurani, tells.
Construction will start this year and wrap up in 2020.
In a rural area outside Chennai, Riverbend School will host its first class of 300 students (plus faculty, staff, and an artist-in-residence) in 2020.
The school was designed by the New York-based firm Kurani, which specializes in educational spaces.
Kurani’s team designed the campus like a village, he says. The site will center around a central plaza, with classrooms outside it, student and faculty housing outside that, and then agricultural land on the outskirts, where students will farm.
When planning Riverbend, the firm looked to a long-running Harvard study that has tracked people over the past eight decades. It suggests that strong relationships contribute to a happy life.
The campus will include many communal spaces, dubbed “chat labs,” where students can discuss projects with peers or teachers.’