Centre For Learning

an alternate school

“The buildings are simple, subtle, not imposing and form a canvas for the kids to express themselves on. An architecture to feel and experience and make your own.” Centre For Learning, started by a group of educators, is an attempt to explore the nature of learning and its relationship to the challenges we face today. Living creatively and meaningfully demands from each of us a serious inner enquiry free from dogma and ideology. Without this, there looms the danger of losing ourselves in a world that values achievement and success above all else, unmindful of the damage to nature and community. Education has been reduced to preparing the young to compete in such a world.CFL is a small school outside Bangalore for students between the ages of eight and nineteen. As educators, they wish to meet the challenge of creating an environment where children and adults can inquire together in freedom, security and affection. Perhaps this can awaken a creativity in the individual, which will contribute greatly toward a spirit of responsibility and regeneration in society. The curriculum also aims to help students discover their interests and nurture rigorous skills in academic and non-academic areas.

Varadenahalli is a small village forty kilometers to the west of Bangalore, not very far from Magadi, the nearest town. The campus is located on a twenty-three acre piece of land near the village. The land slopes down sharply to the north and the high rock at the Southern end offers a dramatic view of the whole landscape around. There are terraces separated by clusters of big rocks. The buildings have been designed to seamlessly blend with the landscape. Having protected the land from grazing, and having ensured that rainwater recharges the land, along with regular tree planting over the past fifteen years, have made the campus one of the greenest pieces of land for miles around. Through the years they have learnt to care for the land and use it as a rich educational resource, both observing the natural and learning about the impact that human settlement has on land.The buildings on the campus have been designed for 20 teachers and about 70 students. Most students and teachers commute to the city and stay in school only two nights a week, the rest mostly seniors stay for the week. The buildings are cost effective and aesthetically designed with local materials using mainly stone and brick.

Facilities include a spacious and well-stocked library, labs, a circular thatched assembly hall, and art, craft and pottery areas. Hostels double as classrooms, while the junior and middle school have dedicated learning spaces. The kitchen, as might be expected, is a major hub, and also have a guest house for overnight visitors.The campus has been a great educational resource. Over the years, teachers and students have engaged in various land-related activities, which include growing vegetables, herbs and pulses, caring for the campus, landscaping and studying biodiversity, exploring the hills and woods around and making contact with the neighbours.Designed in a rural landscape this campus attempts to respect the natural terrain and has been planned around the groves of rock boulders and trees. The buildings have been separated by their function and activity and zoned in clusters as a group of buildings. So the dining area which forms the heart of the campus, has the kitchen and stores and semi open gazebos of different shapes and sizes for children and teachers to sit and have their meals. this spills into informal play areas, vegetable gardens and outdoor seating spaces, which gives opportunity for groups to meet and interact here.

The Library building is designed as a learning resource centre where one can move around freely and browse through books and choose your alcove or study area to spend quality learning time. The main building has been designed as a two storied structure connected with a large atrium space bringing in natural daylight in the library. A spiral leads to the second level mainly for senior students and study spaces with a spillover terrace. A small ladder leads to a tower room with an aerial view of the campus, also a quite space to be by oneself. The reference room is a separate section with possibility to meet and do project work in groups without disturbing the main library. The library is a flexible open space which also doubles up as a class or a storytelling space in the center.The Assembly is a 30 feet dia circular thatch structure on a raised stone plinth and masonry pillars, This space is where the school can meet, sing and have presentations also used for music and dance. Located near the art and craft centre which have their independent structure for groups or individuals to learn pottery, painting etc.

The Science cluster of building having specialized lab and classrooms for Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Math and Computers.CFL4;The Residential area is a cluster of four homes designed to accommodate a group of students and teachers with a living area which doubles up as a classroom during the day. The homes have a small kitchen and rooms for groups of children and separate rooms for teachers. Children make one of these homes their home in school for a year or two and move to another home, hence getting to stay in each home during their stay in school.The Junior school has its own building with classrooms, library and activity areas around, with a courtyard, slide and play space. Playfully designed in two levels with tree trunks used as support for the roof, and detailed with alcoves, bay-windows, vaults, nooks and corners all with the young in mind. The building are simple, subtle, not imposing and form a canvas for the kids to express themselves on. An architecture to feel and experience and make your own.

                                       Project Fact File:

  • Project: CFL school and learning facility for 100 people.
  • Location : Vardenhalli village, Magadi Road, Bangalore
  • Client: Centre For Learning
  • Architects: GoodEarth Bangalore ( earlier House of Consultants)
  • Design team: Jeeth, Natasha, Latha K, Kiran
  • Project Area: Land 23 acres Building 25,000 sqft
  • Project Management: Mr Sreedhar, Inhouse Consultants.
  • Structural Design: Mr R V Achari, Shilpi Design.
  • Project Cost: Rs 75 lakhs
  • Completion of project: 2000