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  • Redefining Aastrika's Brand Identity

    Two years after transitioning from Aastar to Aastrika, it was time to strengthen Aastrika's brand strategy, visual identity, voice, and culture. The intent was clear: to inspire people to align with Aastrika's vision and engage in the vital conversation surrounding maternal health and the need for physical and digital healthcare infrastructure development in India. From establishing internal value pillars to defining visual standards and message guidelines, the aim for design was to create a robust framework that would underpin Aastrika's communications and outreach efforts. Illuminating the Brand and Purpose Inspired by Aastrika's core purpose of "Transforming birthing for millions," we embarked on a journey to strengthen its existing identity. Rooted in relatable Indian imagery, the renewed thicker logo represented strength, warmth, and vibrancy—a beacon in the realm of maternal health. The subtle colors and visual elements, characterized by soft curved forms, spoke of adaptability and enveloping care. Designed to flex and adapt across digital, social, and physical environments, the new branding aimed to engage audiences and foster lasting recall. Amplifying the Voice and communication Across various channels—from the website to events and social media platforms—it was imperative to articulate Aastrika's personality and mission. This entailed a clear articulation of the challenges, focus areas, and impactful programs spearheaded by Aastrika over the past four years. By showcasing tangible results and effects in the space, we aimed to forge deeper connections with their audience. Reinforcing the Brand Identity In the realm of brand building, repetition of brand elements and purpose reigns supreme. By consistently reinforcing Aastrika's identity and purpose, we aimed to create a brand that resonates with the users and nurtures enduring relationships and build the path towards a future where every birthing experience is marked by dignity, safety, and compassion.

  • Avataar Ventures: Crafting a Distinctive Brand Identity

    In the dynamic world of venture capital, where relationships and trust are paramount, Avataar Ventures embarked on a mission to not only provide financial support but also to be the trusted partner startups need to scale new peaks. Here's an inside look at how Tacit, a creative agency, collaborated closely with Avataar's co-founders, Mohan Kumar and Nishant Rao, to shape a brand identity that reflects their vision and values. Tacit began by delving deep into Avataar's vision: to see India and Southeast Asia become thriving B2B product hubs for the world. This ambitious goal required more than just capital investment; it demanded a unique approach to support, including networks, sales and marketing strategies, and even product adaptations tailored to diverse regions. Avataar Ventures faced the challenge of clearly and concisely communicating its ethos. They needed a brand identity that would not only set them apart but also encourage the right connections and expectations with startups. Tacit's design journey commenced with a keen focus on the brand's visual elements.The heart of the brand identity is the logo, which needed to encapsulate Avataar's role as a guide and partner for startups. Tacit ingeniously combined the letters "A" and "V" to form a peak pointing upwards twice. This design choice conveys the sharpness of the financial journey, the idea of finding the way forward, and the continuous ascent—a metaphorical representation of Avataar's role as a Sherpa in the financial landscape. Complementing the logo is a friendly and approachable wordmark. This typographic choice reinforces the user-friendly experience that Avataar provides to startups, highlighting their supportive nature. A distinct brand color was selected—a shade of night blue. This color choice stands out in the venture capital landscape and conveys a sense of commitment and strength. It reinforces the idea that Avataar is a steadfast partner in a startup's journey. To ensure consistency across all brand expressions, Tacit developed comprehensive brand guidelines. These guidelines serve as a blueprint for Avataar Ventures' in-house design team, providing direction for creating a cohesive brand experience across websites, apps, and various touchpoints. Avataar Ventures' brand identity is more than just a visual representation; it's a reflection of their commitment to helping startups reach new heights. By meticulously crafting a logo, wordmark, and color palette that align with Avataar's mission, Tacit has empowered the venture fund to communicate trust, optimism, and unwavering support. As Avataar continues to empower startups across India and Southeast Asia, their distinctive brand identity will remain a symbol of hope and guidance for those on their journey to success in the world of B2B SaaS.

  • Designing an Efficient Path to Early-Stage Startup Funding in India,The Success Story of LetsVenture

    Tacit pioneered the initial iteration of LetsVenture's mobile and web-based solution, effectively linking startup founders with global investors. This innovative online platform streamlines the process of securing early-stage investments, making it quick and efficient. Founder's Vision: Our goal is to establish India's premier early stage investment platform, facilitating investor discovery of startups and seamless investment connections in the country's leading entrepreneurial ventures. Challenge: Investors struggle to identify startups aligned with their investment philosophies, while startup founders face difficulties in attracting funds from investors who share belief in their vision. Strategy: Our approach involves curating high-potential startups, employing proprietary methods for startup matching, fostering social affinity, and thereby amplifying the likelihood of investments from interested backers. Our funding acceleration service expedites the closure process for enhanced clarity. Solution: Introducing a mobile and web application catering to both investors and founders. Startups are presented as interactive cards, promoting a Tinder-like engagement to gauge interest in the venture. Through a swift commitment feature, investors and founders can engage in real-time chats to finalize negotiations online. Impact: With over 950 investments made on the platform,LetsVenture’s portfolio value has reached $11 billion. A staggering 35,000 startups have registered online, enticing more than 20,000 investors to commit over $140 million in investments since 2013. In the dynamic landscape of the modern business world, startups serve as the bedrock of innovation and entrepreneurship. India, with its vibrant startup ecosystem, has witnessed an upsurge in entrepreneurial endeavours, seeking the necessary fuel to bring their ideas to life. However, the journey from a groundbreaking idea to a funded venture has historically been fraught with challenges. LetsVenture, a pioneering platform, has redefined this journey, revolutionizing the process of raising early-stage funds for startups in India. Empowering Vision: Revolutionizing Startup Investments in India LetsVenture embarked on its journey with a clear and ambitious vision: to become India's premier platform for early-stage startup investments, facilitating a seamless connection between visionary investors and promising startup founders. The goal was to alleviate the longstanding struggle faced by both parties - investors struggling to find startups aligned with their investment philosophy, and startups seeking investors who believed in their innovative ideas. Navigating the Challenge: Bridging the Gap Between Investors and Founders One of the fundamental challenges in the startup ecosystem has been the difficulty in matching investors with startups that align with their objectives. Conversely, startups often find it challenging to secure funding from investors who share their passion and vision. LetsVenture tackled this obstacle head-on by adopting a multifaceted strategy. Strategic Approach: Curating, Matching, and Streamlining LetsVenture's strategy centers on three key pillars: curation, matching, and acceleration. The platform curates a selection of high-potential startups, employing proprietary methods to identify those most likely to succeed. Through innovative matching algorithms and techniques, the platform fosters social affinity between startups and investors, significantly enhancing the likelihood of investment. Moreover, LetsVenture accelerates the funding process by offering closure clarity as a service. This strategic move streamlines the funding process, effectively bridging the gap between startup founders and investors. Innovative Solution: The Mobile and Web-Based Application At the core of LetsVenture's success lies its groundbreaking mobile and web-based application. This interface introduces a novel approach to the age-old process of connecting startups and investors. The platform presents startups to potential investors in the form of cards, inviting interactions reminiscent of the popular dating app, Tinder. This engaging format enables investors to express their interest in a startup idea with a simple swipe. Notably, LetsVenture takes the efficiency a step further by incorporating a quick-commit button. This innovation empowers investors and startup founders to initiate real-time conversations, fostering direct negotiations that lead to investment closures. This real-time connectivity eliminates geographical barriers and catalyzes swift investment decisions. Impact: Pioneering Success in the Startup Ecosystem LetsVenture's impact on the Indian startup ecosystem has been nothing short of remarkable. With over 950 investments made on the platform, amounting to a staggering portfolio value of $11 billion, the platform has transformed the investment landscape. Over 35,000 startups have registered on the LetsVenture platform, attracting a community of more than 20,000 investors who have collectively invested over $140 million since 2013. In conclusion, LetsVenture's innovative approach to early-stage startup funding has not only simplified the complex process but has also invigorated the startup ecosystem in India. By leveraging technology, fostering social affinity, and accelerating the funding journey, LetsVenture has emerged as a beacon of success, bridging the gap between visionary startup founders and enthusiastic investors. This success story exemplifies how a strategic vision, coupled with innovative technology, can reshape traditional paradigms and pave the way for a brighter future for startups in India.

  • A Fresh Tactile Approach to Introducing Image Interpretation Through Play

    Tacit introduces "Bimba," a card game immersing art enthusiasts in visual art. Players decode inkblot art, narrate stories, and decipher enigmatic images, while challenging opponents and gathering support for their interpretations. Vision Simplify abstract art interpretation, making it accessible and engaging for all. Provide an experiential platform for confident art engagement. Challenge Equip individuals to develop an interpretive language for abstract art through interactive play and validation. Strategy Use abstract inkblots as art samples for diverse interpretations. Integrate game mechanics for social validation and consensus building. Solution A card game with 84 cards featuring abstract inkblot visuals. Players associate images with phrases, vote, and interpret meanings. Design Curate diverse images for varied interpretations. Optimal card sizing for handling, voting, and story validation, minimizing conflicting viewpoints. "Bimba" encourages artistic exploration, fostering community engagement and shared creative experiences. Abstract art has long intrigued and perplexed individuals, with its enigmatic forms and ambiguous meanings. In response to this challenge, Tacit has introduced a novel approach—Bimba, a card game designed to engage art enthusiasts in the intricate process of abstract art interpretation. By combining elements of play, social validation, and strategic thinking, Bimba offers a unique platform for individuals to develop an understanding of abstract art through tangible experiences. The Collaborative Minds Behind Bimba Bimba is the result of collaborative efforts by experts in various fields: Sindhu Kulkarni - Visual Designer Kiran Kulkarni - Game Designer Narayana Muthy - Artiste Their shared objective is to democratize the interpretation of abstract art, making it accessible, inclusive, and experiential for a broader audience. Addressing the Interpretation Challenge The inherent challenge of interpreting abstract art lies in its subjectivity—multiple individuals can derive varying meanings from the same visual. Tacit recognized this challenge and aimed to create a method that enables individuals to cultivate a systematic approach to abstract art interpretation. The Strategy: Abstract Inkblots and Social Validation Tacit's strategy hinged on using abstract inkblots, renowned for their complexity and ambiguity, as the foundation of the Bimba card game. Abstract inkblots present participants with shapes that do not readily conform to recognizable objects, fostering diverse interpretations. Central to the game's strategy is the concept of social validation. Participants are encouraged to express their interpretations and votes, stimulating discourse and leading to a collective understanding. This approach leverages the wisdom of the crowd to refine interpretations and cultivate a shared language of abstract art. The Innovative Solution: Bimba Card Game Mechanics The Bimba card game consists of 84 cards, each featuring intricate abstract inkblots. During gameplay, participants are tasked with matching these images with phrases, followed by casting votes that reflect their interpretations. This approach compels participants to analyze visual elements, establish connections, and articulate their perceptions. The game mechanics trigger cognitive processes related to pattern recognition, spatial reasoning, and associative thinking. As participants engage in repeated cycles of observation, interpretation, and validation, they refine their analytical skills and gain a deeper appreciation for the layers of meaning inherent in abstract art. Fostering Artistic Literacy Through Bimba By introducing a structured framework for abstract art interpretation, Bimba contributes to artistic literacy. Participants develop analytical tools to navigate visual complexities and translate abstract forms into coherent narratives. This process aligns with educational theories emphasizing experiential learning and cognitive growth through iterative practice. Conclusion: Empowering Interpretation Through Play Tacit's Bimba card game offers a novel approach to tackling the challenge of abstract art interpretation. By harnessing the cognitive processes involved in gameplay and encouraging social validation, Bimba empowers individuals to engage with abstract art systematically. As participants immerse themselves in this dynamic experience, they contribute to the evolution of a universal language for abstract art interpretation, fostering inclusivity and expanding the horizons of artistic understanding.

  • Crafting PuzzleDesh: Weaving Mythical Stories of India into Puzzles

    Tacit partnered with traditional Indian artistes to create series of Puzzles called PuzzleDesh. It kickstarted the business, product development, brand positioning, marketing and distribution system for PuzzleDesh printing and selling 10000 copies. Founding Partners : Sindhu Kulkarni, Kiran Kulkarni, Srinivas Bylhalli Founders Vision : To enable the rich indian stories celebrating it by the process of play via beautifully crafted board games and puzzles Challenge: Facilitate a meditative experience through interactive engagement with legendary narratives portrayed using traditional Indian painting styles. Strategy: Carefully select significant mythological tales from India that portray divine elements, allowing participants to emotionally resonate with the narrative through the process of assembling puzzles. Collaborate with skilled traditional artists, transform their artistic creations into digital format, and feature their work prominently on puzzle boxes, thus generating recognition for the artists and promoting their classical painting techniques. Solution: Introduce a collection of 10 distinct puzzles, each illustrating pivotal mythological narratives from India. Crafted with intricately designed puzzle pieces, these puzzles are tailored for both celebratory occasions and daily meditative practices. In a world dominated by digital entertainment, PuzzleDesh emerges as a captivating fusion of traditional pastimes and storytelling. Through a partnership between Tacit and traditional Indian artists, this innovative endeavor brings the ancient art of storytelling and the meditative allure of puzzles into harmonious convergence. This distinctive venture not only revives the fascination for traditional board games but also resurrects the captivating mythical stories of India in a tangible and engaging manner. The Visionaries Behind PuzzleDesh: Founding Partners At the helm of this creative venture are the visionary founding partners: Sindhu Kulkarni, Kiran Kulkarni, and Srinivas Bylhalli. Fueled by their shared passion, they embarked on a mission to celebrate India's rich cultural heritage by transforming timeless tales into interactive puzzles. Their vision was unwavering—to infuse the process of play with the essence of India's narrative traditions. The Essence of PuzzleDesh: A Tale-Woven Puzzle Collection The centerpiece of PuzzleDesh's offerings is a collection of intricately designed puzzles. Each puzzle piece serves as a portal, transporting players into the enchanting world of Indian mythology. This curated assortment of puzzles serves as a bridge between generations, merging the allure of age-old legends with the tactile pleasure of puzzle solving. Navigating the Challenge: Blending Meditation and Engagement A central challenge for PuzzleDesh was to seamlessly merge meditative engagement with storytelling. The founders aspired to craft puzzles that would enable players to immerse themselves in stories, shedding stress and losing track of time—a tranquil journey through ancient narratives. The Strategic Thread: Fostering Artistic Connections PuzzleDesh's strategy was as ingenious as it was culturally resonant. The team embarked on a quest to curate pivotal mythical stories from India's vast trove. These narratives were then meticulously portrayed through traditional painting styles, drawing inspiration from diverse regions of the country. But the innovation didn't cease there. PuzzleDesh acknowledged the value of collaborating with traditional Indian artists. These often-overlooked artisans were provided a platform to shine. Their intricate artwork was digitized and prominently featured on puzzle boxes. This not only introduced players to the artists' distinctive styles but also contributed to the preservation of traditional art forms. The Culmination: Meditative Artistry and Play PuzzleDesh's achievement manifests as a series of ten puzzles, each embodying a pivotal mythical tale from India. What elevates these puzzles is their uniquely shaped pieces, intricately designed to mirror the cultural essence of the stories they portray. These puzzles transcend mere games; they become conduits of relaxation, education, and artistic appreciation. From festive gatherings to serene evenings of introspection, PuzzleDesh's puzzles find a place in diverse corners of people's lives. They emerge as bridges between generations, sparking discussions about India's cultural legacy and fostering an understanding of the narratives that have woven its identity. In Conclusion PuzzleDesh stands as a testament to the power of collaboration, cultural heritage, and imaginative play. By revitalizing traditional art forms and blending them with the joy of puzzle-solving, PuzzleDesh has kindled a flame of curiosity and celebration. As these puzzles grace households, they breathe life into India's timeless myths and stories, ensuring they remain cherished for generations to come.

  • Designing a light weight cricket leg gear for fast paced cricket

    Tacit partnered with 21G, to kickstart the product development and set up their first production centre in Bangalore Challenge Help reduce the cases of “Bow legs” in case of extreme cricketers, especially batsmen over a period of continuous cricketing practice Strategy Discover, explore, prototype alternate affordable materials with optimised shapes to reduce weight and increase strength of cricket leg guard and position it for new age cricket. Solution Innovation on the material of cricket leg guard to sandwiched PP, reducing weight by over 40%, enabling batsmen to run between the wickets faster Cricket is a sport that demands agility, speed, and precision. With the evolving dynamics of the game, players are pushing their limits to excel on the field. One crucial aspect of cricket that often goes unnoticed is the protective gear worn by players, especially batsmen. In this pursuit of excellence, Tacit Designs, in collaboration with 21G, has revolutionised the concept of cricket leg guards. Let's delve into the journey of designing a lightweight cricket leg gear that caters to the demands of fast-paced cricket. The Genesis: A Partnership with Purpose Tacit Designs teamed up with 21G to embark on a journey to redefine cricket leg guards. This collaboration marked the establishment of a cutting-edge production center in Bangalore, where innovation took center stage. With Sanath Reddy at the helm, the founder's vision was to transcend traditional ideas of protective gear and develop products that not only provided superior protection but also resonated with the aesthetics of the modern game. Innovating for Excellence: The Cricket Leg Guard The primary objective was to address a prevalent issue in cricket – "Bow legs." The continuous practice and rigorous matches often took a toll on the players' legs, especially batsmen who needed to remain agile and swift. Tacit Designs recognized this challenge and set out to create a solution that would reduce the cases of bow legs among extreme cricketers. Strategy for Evolution: Lightweight & Resilient The journey to create the perfect cricket leg guard started with a strategic approach: Discover, Explore, and Prototype. The team sought to explore alternate materials that would not only be affordable but also optimize the guard's shape to enhance strength and reduce weight. This approach was grounded in the understanding that lightweight protective gear could significantly impact a player's performance on the field. A Game-Changing Solution: The Power of Innovation The crux of the solution lay in innovating the material used for the cricket leg guard. Through meticulous research and experimentation, Tacit Designs introduced a groundbreaking concept: sandwiching Polypropylene (PP) between layers. This innovation led to a remarkable weight reduction in the leg guard, making it considerably lighter and stronger than its conventional counterparts. Unleashing Performance: The Impact on Players The innovation had a direct impact on players, particularly batsmen. The reduced weight of the leg guard allowed them to run between the wickets faster and move with heightened agility. This not only improved their overall performance but also contributed to a reduction in leg strain and the cases of bow legs, which had been a persistent concern among cricketers. Conclusion: Redefining Cricket Protection Tacit Designs, led by the visionary Sanath Reddy, succeeded in revolutionising cricket leg guards. By embracing innovative materials and rethinking traditional design concepts, they not only addressed a critical issue but also contributed to the evolution of protective gear in the cricketing world. This collaboration between Tacit Designs and 21G serves as a testament to the power of partnership, innovation, and a shared vision to make cricket safer and more dynamic for players. In the ever-evolving landscape of sports, Tacit Designs' journey stands as an inspiring example of how a commitment to innovation can transform the way athletes perform and protect themselves on the field. As the cricketing world continues to push boundaries, this new era of lightweight protective gear promises to be a game-changer for players seeking to excel in the fast-paced world of cricket.

  • Exploring an Indic Design Framework

    We believe design as an act of connecting ourselves with reality in the process we may illuminate and liberate. It is as much an internal process to refine your own self. As designers and by designing, we hope to become better listeners, sensitive creators and responsible members of ecosystems. Everyday we engage with our collaborators who struggle in finding sense of current realities, meanings and connections with ever-changing cultural world. We walk together in discovering subtleties, unobtrusive beauty, hidden structures, mystery connections, seed of ideas, origin of a fountain, or many such unexplainable forces that drive creation of experiences. We engage by getting to know better, building trust and deepening relationships. We often view a business as a self sustaining responsible community that is strong and relevant to other communities, rather than a profit making entity dominating others. Design interventions tend to (hopefully) act as humanizing agent to improve relationships between communities. Not to forget our relationship with nature. Innovations in last two centuries have accelerated production and innocently if i may say, we have cluttered our beautiful world with unnecessary objects, symbols, information and services. New generation is conscious and cautious of this. We collectively want to heal this explosion. We may walk different paths. We may discover new worlds or we may discover ourselves. At Tacit, we immerse to enliven the current moments. We like to spend time on learning what our senses say to us without too much intervention of symbols. The process looks slow but opens our senses, connections actively. We do not claim to solve problems, but we may touch that is “essential” — that which makes us feel better holistically, genuinely and make us collectively wiser in the process. Cyclic Process We see design as an act of creation deeply and consciously responding to the situation in hand. We respond by absorbing context (Rikta), unearthing the essential/subtle (Rasa), development of form/experience (Roopa), engaging time (Kala) and oneself (Mana) in an endless cyclic process. The spiral of a sea shell helps us to visualize our process with ease. It suggests creation and growth of the shell in its biological constraints. I guess, its a natural conditioning growing up here in India. What does design impact? This process or act of creation today sits in a larger context of our life. A framework helps to visualize key variables influence a design act and highlights the need to examine how those key variables might differ/affect and under what circumstances. We visualized a framework “Design Playground” for design in general. We listed “key essentials” that we touch in the “act of creation”. We often spend a good deal of time dealing with these “constraints” as well as “opportunities”. Each time one starts talking or critiquing design we mostly stumble upon these essentials. We as designers eventually respond to each one of them sensitively and creatively. While the above diagram is more subjective and personal, this is objective and measurable. Aesthetics that make it alive, working on efficient functionality, influencing how people live (socio politics), and how we use/manage earth (environment), with an ability to maintain rates of renewable and non renewable resources depletion that can be continued indefinitely(Economic Sustainability), in our contexts of creation. Each time we design we create new knowledge influencing next generations of creators that shape human behavior endlessly. Each time we create, we seem to move around in these eight zones, mostly aspiring to liberate from it. We attempted to evaluate a couple of our projects to visualize our engagement in projects. We recorded our inputs (effort/process) and output (influence/impact) on a scale rating. It looks something like this. What you see above are two projects mapping of our engagement. We noticed some interesting findings. An artifact may not have looked very pleasing aesthetically but can have larger impact engaging with users meaningfully, even though we have put substantial effort dealing to make it look pleasing. We create new knowledge each time we engage in a project even if do not intend to. We often fail to document it. Writing about our journey in the form of stories help to share this knowledge. We have a lot of work and thinking to do on environmental factors, not many really know concrete solutions. This is great area for progressing in this millennium. Creation contexts — Creator, consumer, producer/client relationships improve with transparency of communication. The easier you make it to talk with each other, more productive are the projects. There is no winning formula! We have to compose/improvise consciously, constantly …….and so on. Above exercise is a glimpse of how we work. At Tacit, we deal with “concepts” and “contexts” on a daily basis. We embrace this complexity of each project. We enjoy these constraints and the impacts we can create by the clarity one can bring in the process of creation. Those keen to know in detail, please do connect me via comments. Thanks for reading.

  • Design of an eco-sensitive, inclusive Steiner school installed in 50 days

    Class room tents, Bangalore Steiner School “We want to shift our school with 125 children to a new temporary place in less than 2 months, can you help us design this?” asked the school authorities." 50 days! seemed an impossible task looking into the current realities of the state of building construction in Bangalore. The site of 5 acres was chosen around 30 km outside the city in a 20-year-old farm, which also housed pigs and goats. How did we ditch our traditional approach to architecture to come up with alternative ideas to meet the construction needs of this school in a short time? In the following reading, we will share our approach and learning while designing this school. When we met the founders of Bangalore Steiner School a few months ago, we found ourselves drawn to the problem they were attempting to solve. We were excited about the possibilities and the level of impact our work would have. The founders wanted to relocate, and transition to a larger campus in the most cost-effective, friendly way without compromising the educational philosophy of the school, and the spirit of students, teachers, and parents. The goal for design for us was largely the same. Background Steiner schools are based on the educational philosophies of Rudolf Steiner an Austrian social reformer, architect, and philosopher. Steiner schools follow a curriculum based on stages of child growth and development marked by observable changes in a child’s gradual learning abilities. The method of education is designed to be responsive to the various phases of child development. The total Steiner curriculum has been likened to an ascending spiral: subjects are revisited several times, but each new exposure affords greater depth and new insights. He emphasized an education method on the balanced development of Hands, Heart & Head. For more on Steiner education in Bangalore, you can visit here. Steiner schools are programmatically different from traditional State, CBSE or ISCE-run schools as they do have a different curriculum. They base their curriculum on the following Steiner philosophy. Early Childhood (0–7) — Realm of willing — educate the body intelligence through senses, Middle childhood (7–14) — Realm of feeling — educate the emotional intelligence through feeling, Adolescence (14–18) — Realm of abstract thinking — educate the mind. When founders described the situation, we brainstormed on how to tackle the current situation and bind it to the educational philosophy that it works on. How do we relocate an entire school infrastructure in the least amount of time, with limited resources, and a low budget? How do we ensure the right protection, shelter, services, and all school activities to run efficiently on a daily basis? How do we build trust with the parent community during the progress of the new makeover? How do we design informal educational activities, and services for operational efficiency yet express them with a sense of beauty? How do we re-use, reduce and re-purpose any resources we have in the making of the built form to reduce cost and increase speed? We subconsciously followed a Cyclic/Circular design thinking approach as the scale of what we are re-designing has shifted from the mere design of the built form (school) to continuous learning systems that shape the minds of students over a period of time absorbed in the environment. What we are designing moved away from a Design of a school to a more complex web of intimately connected networks of parents, families, teachers, kids, dreamers, believers, and so forth. Within our constraints, we accommodated diverse ideas of people who shape up and sustain the spirit of learning in this school. Bangalore Steiner School is made functional in a record time of 48 days. Today a total of 125 students, 30 teachers, 16 support people spend their entire day in the green lush campus of school. The first reactions by the students was very humbling to see. The kids were overjoyed by the openness, access to nature, access to their tools and belonging to their teachers and classrooms. Also the contractors and school management shared a happy experience :-). 1. Get an insider view Before we started designing the school, we participated early in schools expansion plans. The big difference has been that our son is a student of the school and also he will be one of the many students who will be affected by this transition. We volunteered as parents to design the school with support from other parents who wished to help with the setting up of the school as well. We participated in discussions to understand the teaching styles, and challenges that the teachers, students, and the management faced in the daily operations of the school. We learned that teachers loved to bond with students and build a sense of elderly trust that helped in the process of a child’s learning. Teachers spent a lot of time with individual students to become closer and create interest in their teaching activities. Our active participation along with the trust that the management had in our decisions made the whole process faster with their coordination and quick sanctions. 2. Planning for durable activities in a densely green site The 5 acres densely planted site came with its own set of challenges. Tree covers, slope, water flow, soil condition, safe site boundary, the light, wind, local building skills, local materials, local living systems & local politics were our top-of-the-mind concerns. How little can we build, to make the school activities get their expression was our single most concern. As we walked several times in the site, enjoying the views, smells, sounds, and living activities (animals, birds, plants) it offered, we noted zones on the site that would unite with the existing activities the place was already rich with. We wanted to intervene as little as possible, allowing it to grow over a period of time. After marking the key zone roughly on the site and documenting it with photographs we were confident to work on the drawing board to an extent. The site was dense and organic. We realised that the lines on the drawing board would erase all the living activity, increase construction, and increase the complexity of design leading to increased costs. So we decided not to take the traditional architectural approach of drawing and send the drawings to the site for execution. Instead, we started to sketch, mark and design on-site. This allowed us to improvise quickly, iterate faster solutions, and cross-check with the contractor about the feasibility and implementation. This reduced building costs and time. Site Zoning 3. Explore, asses ideas quickly with feasibility ratings We followed a participatory designing technique encouraging ideas from parents, management on building styles, vendor connections, and local knowledge. Initial ideas included Container homes, Bamboo construction methods, Rammed earth construction, local village archetype construction techniques, military-style canvas tents, and so on. We noted the ideas and rated it against the current reality of time and cost. Against every idea, we called the respective vendors to get a feasibility picture and cost associated with building a pre-calculated area. After a cost vs building skill review, we zeroed in on the use of Canvas tents over a normal plinth construction. This idea clearly scored over others for a few reasons. We found vendors who packaged it in a clear estimate to execute that was within the budget and time It was time tested earlier in the old school, teachers and students knew its pros & cons. The newer tents came with a promise of better quality fabric and joinery than the existing ones. It was flexible, modular, and suited the planning requirements of the school and future plans. 4. Find a hero contractor One of the main challenges of the project was to recruit an inspired and energetic contractor who is willing to participate with enthusiasm to give solutions with great speed and execute flawlessly. We decided not to make detailed drawings or engage specialist consultants, and electrical and plumbing layouts to speed up the project and reduce cost. Many contractors were skeptical to participate initially. We devised an alternate story of wrapping the project in 60 days to clear all the payments within the time so that the labour can be mobilized with certainty. This made the proposition interesting to a few as we reduced time, the money flow would be faster and they would be free to commit to any larger project after 60 days. In a small timeframe, now it is easier to design your profits. Due to the nature of design and planning, it was now easier to formulate the requirements to vendors more specifically getting control on cost. We hired two contractors — one working on civil works, the second solely focussing on installing classrooms. We asked for item rate estimates so that we could note the deviations that happened in any change of designs. Our contractor/ Engineer was first of all sensitive, good with locals, enthusiastic, and who was great in managing the local dynamics dealing with people, and procuring materials. 5. Learning from ‘Site’ conditions A dash of rain was enough to make all the red ground turn green within a day. The tall straws filled the ground between the network of the Neem trees. Earthworms were busy, and so were the Mynahs, Sparrows, Bulbuls, and a few other little colored birds, ants, snakes, and exotic insects. The ground sloped on two sides gradually. A culvert collected water on one side of the slope. A pack of farm dogs roamed freely. They were assigned to reduce the monkey menace. The monkeys however had found safe routes in the trees. Bees and butterflies were visible in bushed clusters. Overall wilderness breathed strong. As architects, we were aware that a group of 200 kids were to join this party!. We hoped that they will co-exist learning from each other which the Steiner philosophy upheld. The culture of the land and natural materials available in the immediate environment are emphasized to make the learning process relevant and engaging for the child. The approach to the site was a no-brainer. “Build as little as possible, be sensitive to existing life, create light foundations for quick re-use, use the natural slope to channel water, dig little, do not use permanent construction methods, and so on..”. This decreased the cost naturally. Architectural Solution: Canvas Tents, light foundation, reusing existing structures Mini earthmovers were used to level the ground. We identified 4 zones of activities matching Steiner's recommendation of class clusters. We identified different zones of activities — Office/Lab, Kindergarten, Classes 1 and 2, Classes 3,4,5, and Classes 6, 7,8. The kitchen, Woodwork area, and Toilets were also set up to support the basic needs of the children in the school. The construction method had to be quick and ready to work, steering clear of curing time, and bonding issues that cause delay. The existing farmhouse was allocated to be re-used for younger kids. Safety was mapped based on the distance to activity with respect to the elders closest to the activity. We made sure they get an auditory and visual connection with kids and teachers in each zone. Rammed earth plinths just 1 foot high, 43/21 feet with the cement finished flooring was provided as a base for all the classrooms. This was one section that would cause delay as it needed a minimum 21-day curing time, which we did not have. We went ahead with pitching the tents on these plinths and working out a maintenance agreement with the contractor to re-work the issues that would arise eventually to be fixed after 6 months of usage. Custom stitched canvas tents, with tubular frame structures were installed with provision for lighting points, 1 fan point, 4 roll windows, and a double wooden flush door. It covered 16/32 feet designed to accommodate 25 children with individual seating. The porch space is a spill-out space to include a shoe rack and is open enough to create their own identities for classroom activities. They also use it to store washed utensils. An existing garage was converted into a Kitchen store, adding an extension to cook a simple, healthy vegetarian meal for nearly 200 occupants. An existing goat shed was converted into an office space due to its crucial location near the entrance of the school. We also saved on building a new foundation for this activity. It houses a science laboratory, a sick room, and an office space. A chain link mesh marked out the school boundary. The roofing sheets, chappadi stones for the floor, sinks, steel members, and Kadapa slabs for seating from the previous campus were re-used to create a wood workshop 4 toilet blocks & soak pits were created the local way using concrete rings. The network of roots would help in consuming the waste as manure. Finally, All the major zones like the Open-air theater, School van Parking, Outdoor play areas for athletic activities like high-jump/long jump, basketball, throw ball, and Badminton were planned but the undergrowth was cleared to accommodate these activities which would take shape over time as the school started functioning. Classrooms Cluster 1 What next? The place is designed to include new activities and content. Creative teachers, students, traveling faculty, and parents will add visual diversity through their educational activities expressing the true spirit the school offers. We already see self-created signboards, new plants, wood experiments, trampoline, flying fox, Tyre swing, rope climbs, and many more created by students, teachers, and parents together. When we now visit the school as parents, we see that it continues to grow and evolve, the children enjoy a sense of comfort and growing familiarity in their new campus. It has been comforting to see how the organic design and execution have made the school come alive and make the space a thriving environment for children, teachers, and everybody else who is a part of this school. Please do mail bangaloresteinerschool@gmail.com for more details. Do visit http://bangaloresteinerschool.org/index.html or their Facebook pagefor school-related information.

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