In the desert town of Jaisalmer in North India, where temperatures can reach up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (forty nine ranges Celsius) throughout summer, homes have traditionally been designed to evolve to intense heat. New York architect Diana Kellogg has persevered this lifestyle together along with her paintings at the Rajkumari Ratnavati Girls’ School. The project focuses on providing education to women and girls in a region with low female literacy rates. The school uses eco-friendly design principles and traditional cooling techniques to create a comfortable learning environment.
Designing a comfortable space in the Thar desert can be difficult due to climate change intensifying drought spells. Inspired by traditional Jaisalmer architecture, Kellogg aimed to merge traditional and modern designs to symbolize the desert’s hope and resilience. She blended numerous cooling strategies to obtain indoor temperatures which might be 20-30 ranges Fahrenheit decrease than the outdoors.
Kellogg used locally sourced sandstone; a resilient material commonly used in the area. Lime plaster was applied to the inner walls for natural cooling, and a jali wall (a sandstone grid) was installed for the venturi effect, accelerating wind and cooling the courtyard. High ceilings and home windows launch growing heat, and a sun panel cover affords color and energy. The school’s elliptical shape captures and circulates cool air while symbolizing femininity, aligning with the project’s ethos.
Sustainability and Comfort
While the cooling techniques could be adapted to other locations, their effectiveness would depend on specific conditions. The school doesn’t use air conditioning, opting for traditional and natural cooling mechanisms. Kellogg believes this approach creates a sense of comfort for the students, contributing to their confidence and engagement in learning.
The India Rajkumari Ratnavati Girls’ School exemplifies how eco-friendly design and traditional cooling methods can create a comfortable environment even in extreme heat. The project not only provides education to girls but also showcases the potential of sustainable architecture in challenging climates.