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John Ullman

John Ullman

New York, NY, US

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Manjushree Orphanage Academic Center

The existing schoolhouse at Manjushree Orphanage and Free School, built in 1998, is unsuited to present-day needs. The structure is falling apart and not large enough to accommodate the number of children Manjushree currently serves. Subsequently, classes are held outdoors and in makeshift rooms.

 

16,000 square feet of thoughtfully planned rooms - an academic complex -  will replace the existing 2,400-square-foot schoolhouse, providing more than six times the amount of academic space. This will enable Manjushree to sustain a greatly valued nursery-to-grade 5 school program, and to slowly expand to include grade levels 6 to 12 in order to benefit many more disadvantaged village children.

 

The intention of creating a large Academic Center -the main building in the complex - is to support a combined preschool and young person’s learning environment. The vision is that the new facilities will become a lively hub of daily activities—discussions, hobbies and study—for the children, from dawn till night.

 

The building is divided into two main parts:

 

01 / The Preschool Environment:


The Preschool Environment—comprising the Children's Room, Sun Space 01 and the Family Room—fills out the entire west side of the south facing structure. This "zone of childhood" will be greatly valued, as there is presently no space in which the youngest children can stay active and be properly cared for. Linking these three large rooms will allow the children to experience a sense of openness and freedom conducive to the early-learning curriculum being developed at the school.

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The Children's Room, a nurturing and stimulating nursery and kindergarten environment, will be equipped to facilitate a diverse early-learning curriculum. The furniture will be scaled down to relate to the size of young children, and educational toys and books will be arranged and displayed to spark curiosity and imagination. The intent is for the youngest children to naturally invent new ways to play and interact in “their” community.

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The adjacent Sun Space 01—which will serve as an open-air teaching room and semi-outdoor play space—is directly connected to the Children’s Room via wide stairs. The Sun Space is also connected to the Family Room below via even wider, theater--like concrete stairs.

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The Family Room is designed taking into account the needs of the youngest children, but it is also a place for all age groups to gather and mix. The idea is to create a place where children are encouraged to discuss what they are learning with each other and with adults. This is a multi-purpose room, a flexible space where teaching and play areas can be set up spontaneously.

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02 / Young Person’s Environment:

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The Library Room, the adjacent News Zone and Sun Space 02, the Lecture Room and Sun Space 03 provide a wide range of spaces for concentration and discussion. This part of the structure -the entire east side of the building - creates a definitive Young Person’s Environment.

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The large Library Room is a place where the older children will have the silence they will need to study. With its variety of existing and newly acquired books, a library will be a whole new concept for these children, many of whom come from nomad families, and have never experienced such a place.

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The Lecture Room, equipped with high technical standards, can be easily adapted to suit different activities such as talks by visiting doctors or educators, or movie screenings on Sundays. The room, however, will mainly be used for classes.

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The News Zone, a cyber café-like space directly linked to the Library, will function as a channel of communication to the world. Computers will make it possible to watch and listen to news via the Internet, and additionally a generous supply of newspapers and magazines will be available at this area. This place—which makes clever use of the Stair Hall—will offer a lively atmosphere conducive to discussion.

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Sun Space 02 will also function as a library space, offering a quiet, relaxed, cozy and warm environment for reading. This space will be especially valued during the long winter months.

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Sun Space 03 will serve as a large open air teaching room or a pleasant environment for socializing. Separated from the noisy, livelier Sun Space 01 that is designated for the youngest children, this sunny room will offer a refuge for the older children, the staff and guests.

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In addition, the Teacher’s Environment includes a Lounge, which also serves as a Tutoring Room, and the Main Office, as shown in the plans.

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The Computer and Language Room, also within the Center, will not only accommodate a computer training program, it will provide a study-intensive environment. The room will be furnished with a broad selection of media in electronic form, which will satisfy the educational need for computer literacy as well as competency in English, key for opportunity in the world; the Tibetan language, to keep the culture alive; and, of course, Hindi, as the local Mon-Tibetan people are proudly a part of India.

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The initial funding for the Project came from donations raised at AFTs May 2010 Light of Compassion Gala and Silent Auction held at the Rubin Museum of Art. Head teacher Lama Thupten will now manage the project and oversee the construction.

 
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Status: Under Construction
Location: Tawang, northeast India

 

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