Incorporating a Classical medium at the DPS International, Gurugram

Project: Delhi Public School International, Gurugram

Architects: C P Kukreja Architects 

A rapidly developing conglomerate and a modern hub of global enterprises, Gurugram has gradually emerged as a significant urban centre, furnished with advanced infrastructural facilities and contemporary technologies. With this understanding of the city shaping the design process, a campus branch of Delhi Public School, a famed name among educational institutions in India, was developed in Gurugram’s Sector 45. The horizontally overarching demeanour of the school building redefines the skyline of Gurugram in its own distinct manner.

DPS International, Gurugram was initially imagined with the vision of creating a distinct personality in its architecture—one that was profound in depth, stability and progress in all its manifestations, and with a unique structure that could captivate both first-time and regular visitors. The client’s idea was to realise such a vision by bringing back the old-world charm of learning spaces, which could simultaneously nurture young minds towards a future-focused mode of thinking. Through the low-height expansive design, the architects have been able to provide a breather in the monotonous high-rise character of the urbanscape of Gurugram.

To present a design that captured an entire school in a moment of timelessness, while also accommodating its functional embrace of technology, was certainly a challenge. The answer was to tread the footsteps of Classical Architecture, immortal in its appearance and timeless in its design’s grace and beauty, whilst incorporating the present times’ smart and advanced technological provisions for the physical infrastructure and functional facilities of the school building. The subtle, undulated contours on the façade’s design have defined an identity that is personal to the school. The result was a centrally air-conditioned space for 2,000 students, over a built-up area of 4.5 lakh sq ft, with distinctive and eye-catching architecture, and proportions reminiscent of immortal, classical imagery. Within this built form, the school was to follow the globally-renowned IB curriculum and contain ‘smart’ classroom facilities, meeting world-class standards for educational infrastructure.

The site, being extremely linear, presented certain setbacks during attempts to create a harmonious balance between the open and built-up spaces. This issue of a monotonous, flat-built area was effectively addressed by the creation of several building blocks, separated by open spaces in between. This allowed the segregation of activities among the primary, secondary, and kindergarten classes, with separate play areas for little kids on one hand and young boys and girls on the other. The classrooms’ location on the front face of the design allows natural light inside, which is proven to benefit the health and performance of the children. The filtered natural light adds an exuberated ambience for the students, while inducing a playful and radiant environment, which make learning a fun aspect. The architects understood the value of an optimistically conducive surrounding, an essential key to mould and develop the personality of a child from an early stage of their life.

The principles of design, namely balance, proximity, alignment, repetition, contrast and space, were strictly abided by, as the architects wanted the design to exude the Classical Architecture in its purest sense. The school’s curriculum resonates well with these principles, setting a strong foundation stone for the primitive years of a child’s growth and learning.

The height of the building could not exceed much, owing to the standard classical proportions that were to be followed. It was thus adjusted by sinking the ground floor partially and slanting the top floor by creating dormer windows. This balanced the height in scale, with the front set back to create an aesthetically pleasing elevation. To further accentuate the front elevation of the building, a clock tower—a significant element of Colonial Classical Architecture—was introduced at the façade. This clock tower not only adds a remarkable detail to the building, but is also a powerful urban marker in the skyline, visible from a distance. Imbibing a muted colour tone, the pastel hues represent a dedicated atmosphere for the students. The campus, even with movement and play, appears to be a distraction-free and repose environment. The interiors, hence, contribute towards an airy and spacious ensemble, complementing well with the carefully handpicked furniture.

The central courtyard is another significant element that acts as a major public space for the children—be it for the morning prayer sessions, lunch-time hustle, prize distribution ceremonies, or Christmas parties. It was conceived as an ideal place to encourage student activities and help groom their interactive growth. To front the school with this vast greenscape also allows visitors to be able to witness the grandeur of the school, and as one moves closer, it rises as an edifice of imperial finesse. The consciously curated landscape is a canvas for students to feel closer to nature and witness the different processes of life cycle.

The presence and growth of native flora in the students’ initial years of education, gives them a better understanding and realisation of the value of nature and the balance they need to adapt, in order to have a sustainable lifestyle. DPS International, Gurugram is truly an example of an institution that effortlessly blends the timelessness of the classical orders, with the innovative spirit of contemporary architecture. The unmatched architectural mastery and magnificence of the school is well-reflected in the distinction the design has been able to achieve for itself.

Factfile

Site area: 5 acres

Built-up Area: 4.5 lakh sq ft

Year of completion: 2014