Home Inspirational This College’s Options Let College students Navigate By means of Odor, Contact & Sound

This College’s Options Let College students Navigate By means of Odor, Contact & Sound

This College’s Options Let College students Navigate By means of Odor, Contact & Sound


Image this — a faculty particularly designed to cater to the wants of these with visible disabilities. And bringing this to fruition is a faculty in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, setting the bar excessive for its inclusive architectural design. 

With its distinctive development and considerate design, the varsity empowers youngsters to depend on their different senses to navigate via the academic area.

Adorned with white partitions and ethereal courtyards, ‘The College for The Blind and Visually Impaired’, designed by SEALabs, is devoted to those specific college students.

“Each visually impaired youngster has totally different wants, and we wished to create an area that was inclusive of all of them,” says Anand Sonecha, the architect of SEALabs, chatting with The Higher India.

So, how does this college assist its youngsters navigate? I’m glad you requested!

‘Discovered inspiration in lots of place’

Anand began his follow again in 2015 and had by no means labored on creating a faculty earlier than. “When Viren Joshi, the president of the varsity, approached me to take a look, I used to be very honoured. I used to be excited to get to the varsity and begin the designing course of,” he shares. 

Explaining the concept behind the varsity, he says, “There was an current constructing however was in a nasty situation. It was a faculty for underprivileged youngsters with visible impairment.” 

There have been two buildings — one was a hostel facility and the opposite one was the varsity. “In every room, twelve to fifteen college students had been residing in bunk beds. Consequently, a choice was made to assemble a brand new tutorial constructing and convert the prevailing construction completely right into a hostel facility. This is able to permit for redistribution of scholars throughout the bottom and first flooring, whereas offering them with extra comfy and improved residing areas.”

The School for The Blind and Visually Impaired is located in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
The College for The Blind and Visually Impaired is positioned in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

Whereas Anand was excited to get on board the mission, he lacked a supply of inspiration. To search out that, he determined to spend time with the youngsters. 

“I started observing how college students navigate via totally different locations and areas, figuring out their preferences and gathering spots. Moreover, I made mates with college students to higher perceive their day by day routines, likes, and dislikes throughout the current college. Equally, I engaged in discussions with lecturers to discover methods to reinforce the educational surroundings,” he says. 

Moreover, Anand additionally began to go to colleges for youngsters with visible impairment throughout the nation. 

“The Victoria Memorial College for the Blind in Mumbai left an enduring impression on me due to its outstanding magnificence, regardless of being an adaptively reused constructing. Nevertheless, I discovered only a few good examples of colleges particularly designed for customers with disabilities. Consequently, I later volunteered on the Perkins College for the Blind in Massachusetts, one of many oldest colleges in the USA. Established in 1829, it boasts a wealthy historical past with stalwarts like Helen Keller, Laura Bridgman, and Anne Sullivan who all studied there,” he says. 

He discovered fantastic mentors within the US and was capable of finding the precise course for the mission.

“After I went out searching for inspiration, I realised the way it was not one place that might assist me however loads. Visiting numerous colleges was an incredible studying arc for me,” he says. 

Utilizing 5 senses to navigate

The college is designed to be navigated with the assistance of 4 senses: sight, listening to, contact, and scent.

“Solely 15% of individuals with blindness expertise an entire lack of sight. The vast majority of people who’re blind could understand gentle or color, and people with totally different impairments have various levels of usable imaginative and prescient,” he says. 

The school walls have different textures for students to recognise the classes.
The college partitions have totally different textures for college students to recognise the lessons.

Conserving this in thoughts, Anand designed a faculty that makes use of color, scent, and light-weight to tell apart every class. 


“We employed 5 various kinds of wall plasters and textures for college students to determine areas. Moreover, for ease of navigation, we utilised totally different textures on the ground, incorporating tough and clean Kota stone, which marks the entry factors of the lecture rooms,” he says.

Every space classroom, hall, and courtyard within the college is marked and written in Braille.

Listening to:

For an additional navigation method that utilises listening to, Anand varies the volumes and heights of the buildings, creating totally different echoes and sounds to help college students in figuring out locations.

“As an example, the doorway of the varsity incorporates a extensive and tall quantity, whereas the alternative facet has a shorter quantity and is narrower. This distinction in width and top produces a definite echo in comparison with the doorway. College students, as a part of their coaching, stroll, speak, and even clap to practise utilizing totally different strategies for figuring out areas,” he says. 


To make navigation simple for college students who can understand color in gentle, he used totally different colors.

“Provided that many low imaginative and prescient college students are finding out within the college, one other facet we needed to contemplate was utilizing contrasting colors and lighting to assist college students determine objects, furnishings, and areas,” he says. 

He provides, “As an example, every classroom door is brightly painted, the doorway is in a special vibrant color, and the bathroom doorways are painted in contrasting but vibrant colors. This strategy ensures that college students with low imaginative and prescient can readily determine and find essential components, such because the switchboard.”


Moreover, to make the lecture rooms much more distinctive from one another, the architect determined to interact the sense of scent.

He says, “Now we have additionally planted fragrant vegetation at entries, which might help college students in marking and figuring out locations. These components function totally different clues included into our design. College students, based mostly on their consolation and understanding, use these clues to navigate the constructing.”

The school has brightly coloured doors to help the students with partial vision navigate better.
The college has brightly colored doorways to assist the scholars with partial imaginative and prescient navigate higher.

Inclusive, sustainable and a haven for the scholars

There are 5 particular lecture rooms and 7 lecture rooms with particular person courtyards within the college.

“The furnishings association was additionally essential, and the form and dimension of the lecture rooms advanced based mostly on how college students would sit. To make sure equal consideration from the instructor, we designed a ‘C’ formed seating association the place every scholar is in shut proximity to the instructor,” he says. 

Anand additionally believed that the youngsters also needs to get the prospect to study outdoor, therefore he included the courtyards. 

“We additionally recognised that studying doesn’t solely occur throughout the classroom however extends past its partitions. Contemplating this, the presence of courtyards turned essential. Along with their instructional significance, there have been sensible causes for incorporating courtyards,” he shares. 

“The world experiences a sizzling and dry local weather, which may be difficult for college students with low imaginative and prescient delicate to direct gentle. To deal with this, we ensured that the courtyard offers filtered gentle to the lecture rooms,” he provides. 

Oblique gentle was a major concern because the architect aimed to supply a cushty studying surroundings for low-vision college students with minimal glare.

“To guard the low-vision college students from direct gentle glare, we determined to convey daylight from the roof and never from home windows,” he says. 

A haven for its college students, the varsity is also sustainable in its roots. “We determined to be very frugal with what we had been utilizing. We used solely locally-sourced supplies corresponding to Kota stone and planted greater than 1,000 vegetation of 37 totally different varieties,” he says. 

There are five special classrooms and seven classrooms with individual courtyards in the school.
There are 5 particular lecture rooms and 7 lecture rooms with particular person courtyards within the college.

Anand defined that he planted the shrubs to draw butterflies and birds, and to diversify and enhance the pure surroundings.

A standard rainwater harvesting method often known as Khambhati Kuva (Percolation nicely) was applied. The nicely, with a diameter of 10 ft and a depth of 30 ft, is designed to gather rainwater and recharge the bottom. This nicely can take up 45,000 to 60,000 litres of water in only one hour.

Up and working since 2021, Anand says trying again at his work, “As an expert, I strategy all tasks with the identical depth. Nevertheless, engaged on this mission was distinctive. In our architectural schooling, we had by no means delved into questions on customers to this extent. It opened my eyes to the realisation that in designing any constructing, be it public buildings or complete cities, we should contemplate a various set of customers, guaranteeing that none are excluded.”

He provides, “The lesson of inclusivity that I discovered from this expertise has profoundly influenced my strategy to new tasks, the place I attempt to include the precious insights gained from the varsity mission.”

(Edited by Padmashree Pande)

(All picture credit score: SEAlabs)



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