By: Priyanka Arjun
The new village test
Unlike the unplanned villages growing into mediocre small cities, The New Village carries forward the charm of quintessential Indian Villages yet reflects the advances of technologies.
The Village Community Centre is fulcrum of all activities happening in the village, it aims at providing all facilities that a growing Village needs. Instead of looking to nearby cities for growth, here all aspects of innovation, craftsmanship and learning are fulfilled. Agriculture is life of our villages, and our villages are dying as the Youth continues to shift to cities for ‘better’ opportunities. What if every village centre had space and resources for advancement of agriculture, local crafts and leaders to guide the people? With such intent we chose the Bassi Village, located 145 kms from Udaipur.
Agriculture is main occupation of the people of Bassi. Conventional methods of farming are followed. It is also famous for the handmade Wooden Toys. Mr Jamnalal has received presidential award for his skills. Few families are keeping the tradition of making toys, from the small spaces of their homes. There are issues of machinery, middlemen and space which negates their expertise and is demotivating for the younger generation.Apart from these the life is simple and satisfactory. There are historic temples, annual fairs where people gather and celebrate together.
We chose Bassi for this interesting mix of artistic potential and agro-economics. The idea is to improve both by providing resources and space to people. The workshops, display centre and activity areas promote the Wooden Toys craft. Sale of toys from here brings money directly to the craftsmen. Employment via arts and crafts retains the Youth into villages. All over the world, intensive research and advancement is happening in field of agriculture. Great results have been achieved via hydroponics, aquaponics, aeroponics and many other technologies to grow better produce. Indian Villages are yet to see these developments;however, we must be prepared to embrace the technology. In addition to improving the farming the areas for agricultural research brings all people together. Here all people ‘work together’ to make their village prosperous.
Every village in India is a farming village, in addition to it there are several crafts, like wood-working, stone handicrafts or folk musicians and dancers which can be promoted via these Village community centres. The Design is made such that it can be adjusted to suit all requirements.
5m x 5m modules are interspersed following existing movement pattern found in villages. The open areas, movement spaces follow the scale and randomness of the Indian villages, where the people feel at home moving through them. The module is made of factory-made precast components, to be assembled on site. This decision is taken in lieu of lack of skilled labour at remote areas. However, details like openings, flooring, mitti or lime plaster and landscape follow village specific materials and crafts. These inclusions are to be done by local people, bringing in warmth and character to the centre.
The central gathering space is an open pyramidal pavilion. In planar form this space jumps out from the collision of all activity modules and on functional level too it is born out of the activities surrounding it. This is main gathering space for about 1500 people. Earth tunnels passively cool this area, and a peripheral cool-air system maintains temperature.Two sides of the pyramid are solar panels and other two have pivoting space-frame panels. This way effective ventilation is maintained in case of larger gatherings. This is a place which villagers look up to, which symbolises the technological aspect of the New Village.
Each and every component of design is flexible enough to be adapted at different sites and locations. The size and quality of precast modules remain same, but the internal function, the skin character and planar arrangement can modify as per the particular village requirements. The idea is to create a universal design which can be repeated, remodelled and recreated as desired. We see the future Indian Village embracing technology and evolving into a better version of itself, fully capable of containing its older and younger generations together for lifetimes to come.