• NJ Archstud/o

Kids of the guild, ready to build.

NGO run training centre for rural areas made mobile using shipping containers.

Design by SAGI Architects | Mumbai


The project won the third position in the institutional category in FOAID 2019.


Entrance to the Prototype anchored in one of the interior part of Maharshtra, India. © SAGI Architects

Drone view of a Prototype

An initiative by globally recognised NGO – Pratham are running vocational training courses for the kids of the rural communities. Their plan to give back to the community by creating a centre, maintained and operated by locals, across the rural areas of Maharashtra. They approached to design a module of 1500-2000sqft, mobile, an easily demountable centre that could be relocated at various locations as and when required to create awareness and spread the knowledge.

At the start of the design process, we did encounter few challenges such as specific design terms & visions stated by the client, financial & time constraints as they needed to go viral soon and indigenous requirements of construction. We did plan to set the paradigms to design considering them as influential factors, for the opportunity to explore and to pay tribute to the natural environment, against being placed at varied locations unknown at any given time. With a minimalistic design approach, reusable, recyclable & economical materials, rapid sustaining construction, philosophy implicating modern nomadism, shipping container architecture did become the first choice to propose to the client and did get on board. It gets a lot of encouraging coverage in the design world as a trendy alternative to traditional building materials and seems like a smart choice for people looking for rapid construction and deconstruction.


Being an education centre like a campus "for the people", a community training centre having early childhood development teachings & workshops, we did want it to be also "by the people." We did include the community people from the location where the mobile campus would station at the beginning to help build this centre. As it is to operate various functions for their development, we did mandate the orientation to be aligned so the longer facades would be along north and south, benefitting the climate in any hot and dry parts of Maharashtra, soothing the indoor environment.


Represntation of Typical Module

The design process started by placing the containers next to each other at length and repeating at the depth to have minimum interference in their basic structure and interconnectivity between divisions of smaller rooms. They could even expand into bigger room space when required to cater to larger crowds. Hence, it leads us to a module comprising of two rows and four columns of the containers, sufficing the square footage requirement by the client. To avoid disruption to any place and have minimum excavation done, incorporating the strength of the container, we did elevate the central four blocks over the peripheral blocks, which are standing on pods and formulate a core space as a respite. It would aid in cross-ventilation, a play in the movement and connect them with a semi-open outdoor multipurpose space. Certain services like air conditioning outdoor units, water tanks, a generator are over the roof of one of the lower block to avoid Representation of a typical module

The sun-breakers or as a jaali is at the south and west façade for shade and play of the light by using locally sourced wooden crates. The unique condition of the containers did become an advantage for us. Instead of a door opening at the end, they are with side openings, which we did incorporate as sun-beakers and did clad them with wooden crate planks for a homogeneous look.


Space below steps use for parking, sunbreakers to curtail the heat transmission

To avoid heat penetration through the metal roof of the blocks and to create a soothing environment within, the roof design of the central four-block is with a single stretched fabric, curved and extended as a canopy, to form a shaded passageway above the lower blocks. As literacy rate and education awareness lack in the rural parts of Maharashtra, to entice the people of the community, mainly the kids, to not sly away visiting or revisiting the centre, vibrant colours are applied at the skin of the module and are inspired by the NGO's logo.


Sun breakers picot with window shutters accentuate the play in shade + shadow.

D : Training sessions on Electronics
C: Upskill parlour training sessions
E: Flexible setup for various training sessions

The interiors are minimalistic in design to adapt to any given function operating within. The administration and conference with ancillary facilities at the lower levels and training rooms are at upper levels, which are accessed by the staircase, being an expose feature at one end of the module depicting a career ladder for the "kids of the guild, ready to build" for their future.










The text was written by, Ar. Nirali Jain for SAGI Architects | Mumbai


Photograph credits: Shivkumar Dhale

Picture copyrights: SAGI Architects.