Thursday, March 24, 2016

Design of Choice School, Tiruvalla, is on shortlist for international architecture awards

By Shevlin Sebastian
The management of Choice School, Kochi, is waiting, with bated breath, for April 12. That is the day when the results will be announced for the much-respected Architizer Awards. The design of the new Choice School, Tiruvalla, by award-winning American architect Cetra Ruddy, is in the Global Top 5 in the ‘Unbuilt Institutions’ Category.

Asked about the Architizer awards, Nicole Tetreault, Senior Marketing Manager, said, from New York, "It celebratesthe year’s best architecture, and champions designs which have a positive impact on everyday life. Thus far, we have received thousands of entries in 115 categories from over 100 countries."

Around 350 judges selected the five finalists in each category. Thereafter, they will select the jury winners. Meanwhile, the names of the finalists have been released to the public so that they can vote online. “We give a popular choice award based on the votes,” says Nicole. “Sometimes, the popular and jury choice winners are for the same project.”

While there is no prize money, the winners are invited to attend a gala, in May, at New York where they are presented with an A+ Awards Trophy.

Principal architect John Cetra is thrilled. “To reach this far in the competition, all the final candidates are already winners in their own right,” he said. At this moment, Choice is leading, with 49 per cent, while the next competitor is Smart School in Irkutsk, Russia, at 23 per cent.

“We are happy to be leading,” said Jose Thomas, President, Choice Foundation. Asked how he selected Cetra Ruddy, who was recently inducted into the architectural Hall of Fame, Jose said, “Normally it would not have happened because their standard fees would not have made it viable for a school project in India.” However, Jose has a close friendship with John. “I told John that he should do something to radically alter the face of education in India,” said Jose. And the latter agreed.

One radical change is that the classrooms will be less like a hall. Instead, in each class, there will be several tables where students will sit around, like in American schools. There will be large latticed windows at one side and colourful murals on the walls. The staircases will be made of wood. The ceilings are being decorated with acoustic wooden baffles and there will be plants and palm trees growing inside the grand atrium.

The fully air-conditioned school, which has an area of 2 lakh sq. ft., has five interconnecting blocks: a hostel, a performing arts centre, a primary, middle and high school. “The design resembles '5 fingers', which crisscross and reach out in different directions,” says John. A total of 3000 students will be accommodated.

The first phase will be inaugurated in June.

(The New Indian Express, Kerala editions)

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