An Anganwadi designed by architect Sachin Agshikar for the Charles Correa Foundation honours the design philosophy of the great architect himself, which always held great respect for the inhabitants and surroundings of any building.
Architect Charles Correa was one of the most iconic architects of modern India and one who was actually a pioneer in contemporary design that shaped the post-independent Indian architectural scenario. His designs were not stale imitations of colonialism or the modernism prevalent in the West, instead they were developed in response to the local setting, embracing vernacular architectural principles.
Charles Correa believed in designing for social needs and hence initiated the Charles Correa Foundation (CCF), a non-charitable trust based in Panaji, Goa, whose primary aim is to encourage architecture, urban design and community projects that work for the betterment of the natural and built habitat. The foundation is testament to Correa’s belief in architecture for social causes that help the urban poor and also support the local community by the use of local resources in terms of material and craftsmen.
One of the Foundation’s endeavours is the designing of an Anganwadi in South Goa and Charles Correa entrusted architect Sachin Agshikar, who had worked alongside the mastermind quiet often, with the project. An Anganwadi is actually a government sponsored child-care and mother-care centre in India and was propogated as a part of the Integrated Child Development Services program (ICDS) to combat child hunger and malnutrition. “This project was important to Charles Correa, as it was going to be the first built project of the foundation. The prototype Anganwadi, reflects Correa’s work ethos and style, especially in the climatic and energy factors, and most importantly in the respect for the site’s inhabitants,” says architect Agshikar.
According to the CCF team, “The intent of the project was to propose and implement a vision and strategy to generate an ideal Anganwadi prototype which would provide for a quality environment conforming with the needs and requirements of children for a constructive early childhood development.”
The physical environment becomes integral to this early learning process, thus the Anganwadi, needed to be a low-income multipurpose quality space.The structure factors in the regional climate and has been built in response to the hot, humid weather of Goa, with large openings on all four sides to assist cross-ventilation and counter the climatic discomforts.
With air flow pattern as a primary consideration, the zoning of the functions had the design team placing a large multipurpose space in the centre, with kitchen, toilets crèche and store room facilities pushed to the periphery into the corners. The built space, situated under a large rain tree in line with the axis, acts like a large verandah due to the openings that connect it to the surrounding on all four sides.
Material vocabulary for the prototype structure echoes the low-income typology. Being a space for kids, the team chose black Cuddapah, an inexpensive yet durable stone, to clad the floor while the surfaces were plastered and painted with external paint as a cost cutting feature. The bright red external facade becomes a perfect backdrop for the ever changing shadows of the rain tree that create wonderful patterns throughout the day, almost like an art work.
Architects like Sachin Agshikar who have understood his ideology and translated it into their own unique spatial language continue his legacy, through creations and architectural endeavours; just like this model Anganwadi, of the Charles Correa Foundation.
Text By K Parvathy Menon
Photographs Courtesy Architect Sachin Agshikar