Today one in six people call India home. Of those, one and six are Dalits—about 220 million people (two-thirds USA’s population). Centuries old barriers separate Dalits (formerly Untouchables) from their neighbors. And while the caste system was officially outlawed in 1995, most Dalits are still discriminated against, particularly in rural areas where half of India’s population lives. Dalit communities typically have substandard housing, no running water or toilets.
The studio aimed to study and question the extent to which buildings can impact people’s lives. From teaching them construction skills and environmental stewardship, to providing a poetic backdrop on which their lives can unfold, the Bodhidharma School engages human lives at all moments and scales.The students were responsible for designing a master plan for the overall community, as well as developing a detailed design for “Phase I” of the project (10th - 12th grade classrooms and their supporting programs). By developing a modular design, a balance was created between responses to environmental factors, simple construction methods, and experiential space making.