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The Choice School


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Town of Thiruvalla


  • Project team members: John Cetra, AIA; Theresa Genovese, AIA; Ruben Cabanillas


252,952 sq. feet
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Project Description


The new educational community, the Choice School, reimagines school architecture in India, creating a prototype that will help revitalize rural communities and empower future generations of children. The Choice School takes advantage of defined and focused spaces for learning and development as well as transitional spaces to encourage interaction and inquiry, creating an environment that encourages families and children to take an active role in their education.

Building on the already close-knit society of rural India, the prototype houses grades 1-12 in one building, fostering relationships between students of different ages and allowing for a continuum of learning.  The new Choice School in Thiruvalla has three sections -- Primary School Block, Middle School Block and High School Block -- each containing its own entry, school administration offices, classrooms, library and student commons. These blocks create a progression of independence as students move from a more dependently organized Primary School to a more independently organized High School. This evolution fosters leadership skills among older students, preparing them to become successful citizens.

Taking cues from the region’s cultural and climatic contexts, the new Choice School looks like a part of the landscape of Southern India and reinforces the sense of identity among students, faculty and the community at large. Specific influences include the Kerala House Boat; local materials such as stone, clay tiles and Palmyra Palm; the area’s reliance on vibrant color and texture; and the region’s tendency towards dramatic weather—a mix of heavy rains and bright sunshine.

Fusing these cultural and geographic elements with modern sustainable technologies and practices, the new Choice School is entirely situated in its contemporary context. Relying on local construction, building techniques and materials to mitigate costs and ensure the facilities’ durability and resiliency, the prototype’s design embodies the school’s case-by-case educational philosophy. The prototype’s modularity will allow the Choice School to build additional campuses that easily adapt to varying sites and local programmatic differences while maintaining its core principles and functions.

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