TRANSCENDING THE ARCHETYPE OF LEARNING SPACES
Architect and Interiors India|April 2021
UNLIKE ANY TYPICAL TRAINING CENTRE, THE SEEMING “EFFORTLESS” DESIGN OF THE PJCF SKILL DEVELOPMENT CENTRE, IS A GREAT EXEMPLAR OF A VERSATILE AND MULTI-FUNCTIONAL DESIGN SOLUTION COMBINED WITH FLAWLESS, VIBRANT AESTHETICS

Fresh, contemporary and vivacious. These words underline the design essence of the PJCF [Prakash Jayantilal Chauhan Foundation] Skill Development Centre, located in Mumbai − a CSR project designed to facilitate an inspiring and encouraging learning environment. The ideologies of the institute beautifully manifest into the built environment designed by Natasha Agarwal, founder, NACL (Natasha Agarwal Creative Living).

The design concept focuses on crafting multi-functional spaces for the institution, emphasising effective space utilisation and acoustics to control elevated sound levels while breaking away from the typical and cliché classrooms. The site was previously used as a gymnasium on the top floor of a commercial building- with bulky beams, stand-alone columns creating dead spaces and minimal natural ventilation. This area needed to be converted into a centre, where one could get hands-on practical training and accommodate heavy machinery within a clutter-free environment.

The design approach, both functionally and aesthetically, aims to capitalise on every element, object and material that is integrated within the space by using it in more than one way and ultimately transforming the room with minimal alterations, thereby ensuring versatility within the space. To achieve this, the space design revolved around limited use of varied materials and colours and with the play of textures and grids and linear patterns throughout the space. Spatially, the space has been divided as per the window locations on site. All classrooms have been lined by the windows to enhance the learning process for the user, and the back-end office and utility areas have been planned towards the rear part of the building. To ensure maximum space use in the classrooms, minimal circulation spaces have been created. A single passage acts as a spine to the entire space and connects the various rooms of the single 5000 sq. ft. floor plate.

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