Vasant Vidyalaya

Client: Pentagon Trust

Location: Kutch, Gujarat

Status: Completed 2003

Area: 6000 sqft

Services: Design Consultant And Architect

On 26th January 2001, a devastating earthquake of magnitude 6.9 on the Richter scale struck the state of Gujarat in India. A collective decision was taken to proceed with the reconstruction by the Pentagon Charitable Foundation headed by Mr. Sunil Dalal, architect Brinda Somaya and her team (Somaya and Kalappa Consultants) along with the NGO – Shrujan Trust to undertake the rehabilitation and reconstruction for the village of Bhadli, 40kms West of Bhuj in Kutch. The funding was generated by the NGOs and the GSDNA (Gujarat State Disaster Management Agency) and some houses were partly funded by the owners also. The earthquake for the people of Bhadli was a tragedy, which they turned into an opportunity. The approach towards rehabilitation here has been instrumental in sensitising people into building a sustainable environment. The reconstruction work began in April 2001.

The identity of the homeowners of the village was preserved by rebuilding on the footprints of the original homes. This resulted in the new settlement nestling within its old environs. The villagers provided labour for each other’s houses and the trust provided the fees to the villagers and construction materials and finances, supported by the Village Panchayat.

Education, a commodity of luxury in a remote village such as Bhadli, was consumed by the earthquake when it reduced the only school to a pile of debris. A Co–Ed Primary School with a strength of 194 students and 6 teachers was fully functional before the earthquake, was completely destroyed during the catastrophic event. The school had classes from I to VII, with children of ages ranging from 5 to 14 years. In addition, a small kindergarten with 52 students was taught by 3 teachers and functioned for 7 months in the year.

A new school and community center building was planned, creating a meeting place for the villagers, which did not exist before. It consists of a, Classrooms, a library and dining facilities along with a Balwadi (Children’s Play School), Working women’s area, multipurpose hall and a community hall. A creation of these public spaces resulted in Bhadli becoming a magnet for the surrounding villages, which do not have these facilities. In addition to rebuilding a school, provisions were made for a temporary one where the children could be engaged in various activities and pursue their schooling, distracting them from the destitution while their homes were rebuilt.

The Bhadli Village School was featured in The Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century World Architecture by the Phaidon Press Limited for their list–All the Greatest Buildings of the 21st century.