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An offbeat college campus within the woods

Updated: Mar 26, 2020

Coorg, also known as Kodaku is an isolated mountain district in South Karnataka bounded on the east by the high Mysore Plateau. Towards the southern side, Siddapura is a small settlement along the Kaveri River in the northern side. The aromatic coffee plantations as the remnants of the British era, keep the Kodagians occupied during the day. By night, as the cold starts creeping in, they go back to their

The college campus is located within the rural area of Siddapura, beside a lush green stream. It creates an atmosphere where life is not revolving solely around the school and its students, but extending to the landscape and the topography around it.

The site dictated a horizontal form that notionally neutralizes the tall trees. The design had to acknowledge it.

There is quite a large number of migration into Siddhapura from Kannur and parts of northern Kerala. It is primarily with the intention of doing plantation business, which is the main economy of the people of Siddapura. One thing that has striked my attention is that, most of the people in Siddapura are labourers in the estates. Even though they have been in the place for centuries, very few have transcended the caste and economic barriers to own estates and run business.

Winding roads through the coffee plantations in Siddapura

Winding roads through the coffee plantations in Siddapura

In line with our philosophy to respond to people, place, time and space, each project has to be looked upon from these elements. Understanding the people around your project; the beneficiaries, the stakeholders, the users has always been crucial for building a narrative for the project. Being away from my homeland, the learnt understanding of the people around me was not helping me in this project. I had to spend time understanding the culture, the backgrounds and the aesthetic understanding of the people.

The site proposed for this project is within a coffee plantation on a evenly sloped terrain and a canal flowing beside it. The slope is facing the east. These trees stand tall a create a character for the site.


With a distant view of the site from beyond the canal, a conceptual design was proposed to have singular horizontal structure floating within the woods. Vertical supports that are visually light will create such an expression for the architecture.

Exterior conceptual view of the college

Further with more discussions the design evolved to have a symbolic stupa in the front, and the perforated terracotta screen jali was curved a little to accommodate it. Thus a curved facade was formed, which would create an illusion similar to entasis in the Greek Architecture.

A bold yet floating monolithic form illustrates the curved facade of the main block creating an illusion similar to entasis.

The project is under construction. More updates will be posted soon.

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