Place-Making Marathon ( Aazadi ka Amrit Mahotsav)

Date: 29th Sept to 2nd October 2021
Place-Making Marathon ( Aazadi ka Amrit Mahotsav)

We SMAID took a challenge to create a place for children where they could play, learn and develop skills that will enhance their quality of life in the present and also in the future. One will question how a place can really enhance a child’s quality of life? To answer this question we would like you to embark on our journey where we discovered answers for the same question.

The first step of any good design would be understanding the stakeholders. In our case the stakeholders’ were children. Which are probably more creative than any adults, the reason for that is they are the minds who haven’t got polluted and constrained; they’re limitless on their own. The fountainheads in the action. They haven’t caught up in the rigidity of life, they are in the flow. Preparing for the battle called uncertainty of life; the weapons they’ll be using is what they’re going to learn, and learning is where things got interesting for us! Humans have a tendency that once they learn and are skilled at something they forget how they learned at that time, Now the first challenge that came our way at designing was to answer these two questions 1. Where does all the learning really start? 2. how we learnt things back then?

To answer one of the questions we would quote a story from “Mahabharata.” In Mahabharata, there is a particular scene in which Lord Krishna narrates the breakout of chakravyuh to Abhimanyu when he is in the womb of Subhadra his mother. These all stories had higher purposes and deeper meanings to convey. The story wanted to convey a subtle message that learning starts from the mother’s womb. That’s why it is advised to pregnant women to read spiritual texts; the word for this process is called ‘garbh sanskara. After knowing the answer of where we start learning the other thought came when do we stop learning? The answer is we actually never stop learning and it doesn’t end. So basically, it starts from the mother’s womb and tends to infinity. Now it was time to trace back the learning process of infants and answer how we learned?. The rough compressive answer would be we learn things through imitations and doing experiments according to neuroscience. This is true till our life sustains we learn major part through imitations and doing experiments. When kids are playing they’re getting hurt while playing or just socializing; they are running a bunch of experiments to learn and understand how to be in a community, how to form social relations and whatnot. That is why it is advised not to get bothered when kids are playing.

After getting the baseline clarity; it was time to translate our thoughts to paper before bringing it to reality. The dead space surely needed vibrancy physically and psychologically.
While making and doing research for a design we came across a concept called ‘BALA’ Which means Building As Learning Aid and also is a Sanskrit word with serval meaning ‘young’, ‘powerful’, ‘child-like ‘ and ‘strength of mind’. In the programme, we introduced spaces like sensory path, amphitheater, and different learning spaces through whether it's the design of a railing that allowed children to interact and learn better or just making blackboard on the compound wall of the Anganwadi. These were the major interventions in design and there was much subtle inclusion of learning spaces in floorings too. In design translation we abstracted our all thoughts and gave them symbolic meaning, making them part of the inner beauty of design, the intangible factor which only can be felt through once being satisfied with the layout of design there was no time to take a rest! The site was calling for execution. While designing and its completion. We were faced with many obstacles and every obstacle showed & confirmed to us that we are going in the right direction. In between, we took pauses and appreciated the moments. And after the completion, there was an arrangement of the different workshops for children and the site responded with children gracefully and there was a sense of satisfaction seeing children playing at the site and using design in an interesting way which we never could think of. The process of the nurturing neighborhood also nurtured us in many ways, which we are glad of; summing up with what Churchill famously quoted: “We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us.”