the pavilion at night

21.11.12 | completing (& using) the craft shed

The week after the Visiting School we were really lucky to have Louise and Inez in town to carry on with the completion of the structure. They got together with the mothers we had trained in wood block printing to discuss the plans for the interior space, which was a great opportunity to engage with the community we’re working for. The imperative to build what turned out to be quite an ambitious structure for a two-week project, meant that unfortunately there wasn’t as much time as we had hoped for the participants to meet and collaborate with the eventual users of the building – so it was nice that at least Louise and Inez were able to share our ideas with the three mothers. Luckily they agreed with most of our decisions, so there was no need to radically re-think anything!

Meanwhile, as well as dealing with the mountain of receipts that had piled up over the past two weeks (who knew architecture involved so much paperwork?!) – we were getting on with the roof and laying the tin sheets on top of the plywood. The roof is designed to solve some of the issues in the existing buildings in the following ways: 1) the layer of plywood beneath the tin provides a ceiling for the interior space and acoustic insulation for the monsoon season. 2) the timber battens on top of the plywood allow the tin to be screwed into place from the side, rather than straight down, which would eventually create a leak. 3) an additional layer of 4mm corrugated plastic between the plywood sheets and the tin will prevent condensation, and acts as a secondary waterproofing and insulation layer. From a design point of view the flat tin is much more elegant than the standard corrugated tin, and the plywood ceiling creates a beautiful space underneath.

The challenge of using flat tin sheets is that they can break very easily if they’re not carried carefully and evenly – the slightly speedy rearrangement of materials on the site in advance of the opening ceremony means that there are unfortunately three holes in the roof tin, which we will have to seal. The other problem we have encountered is that of accuracy, and fitting the sheets (which were pre-bent on the ground) between and around the timber battens – so there’s been quite a lot of hammering on top of the roof! All in all it’s looking really great, but has taken longer than hoped.

After Louise and Inez left (amidst lot of hugs and tears!) we decided to take some time away from site to finalize the design for the main project, and draw it up properly to submit to the MDDA. Clem spent a couple of days in Delhi meeting the folks at CURE and dropping off the designs the mothers had drawn up with a famed wood-block carver – these will be ready this weekend, and we can’t wait to start using them in the pavilion. She then met up with Ivar and Alex in Shimla, where they installed themselves for a four-day drawing retreat (with great views and chilled winds!). We’ve been back in Dehradun since Monday, and are working with Kiran to program the pavilion so that it can really serve the school and the community. Five girls from class 8, along with their teacher Reena, had their first wood-block session today – taught by the trained mothers – which hopefully will continue as part of their curriculum long after we leave. We’re planning to start the first after-school computer classes next week, using a laptop very generously donated by Yanchee (one of the Ramboll engineers). Our lovely volunteer Kshipra is going to focus on helping us develop the program for the pavilion in the coming months – which for us is as important as the built structure; the way in which it is occupied and used will be the true measure of its success.