Athenia High School


Architect Firm: Studio Next
Principle Architects:  Tarun Kumar
Design Team: Tarun Kumar, Rajiv Gupta, ST.AR Structural Consultants
Client team: Amit Khurana, Jawahar Singh
Location: Saharanpur, India
Area: Phase  1—4,000 square meters  (total 11,000 square meters)
Total Floor Area: 29,281m2
Completion Date: (Phase 1) December 2016
Photography: Ma Yuan



Athenia High school, built on a 13.5-acre site is located along Saharanpur-Dehradun highway, a main thoroughfare. The site previously housed a brick-baking kiln, which has since been abandoned, giving leeway to nature to tailor a sweep of serene, green, natural surroundings that provide a vibrant setting for an activity focused K-12 school (a school that is open to students from kindergarten to pre-university level).

The school advocates a transformative learning experience, where students grow both in and out of the classroom. The G+1 junior school building is primarily designed to trigger the senses. The built environment sensitizes the students to color, light, texture, smell, and sound. The students are always connected to the outdoors, having a constant view of outdoor spaces as they move through the building, enabling them to experience various sounds, smell, and the morphing natural daylight that changes through the day. A variety of natural materials add tactility and a color awareness to the experience through varied textures and colors in the form of exposed brick and concrete (on the façade), and mosaic and Kota stone flooring. Openings and brick jaalis (screens) allow the play of light on walls and surfaces at various locations, which change through the day as the sun moves. The outdoor spaces act as an extension of the classroom and promote participatory engagement; they seamlessly integrate with indoor spaces to resonate the school’s “open” ideology.

Ample natural light, conducive cross ventilation, projections, and jaalis achieve a comfortable environment in the classrooms, while reducing energy consumption significantly. The school runs entirely on photovoltaics set on the rooftop. The use of natural materials, minimal plaster on the walls, and the optimum use of bricks and natural stone not only contribute to a low carbon footprint, but also reduce the overall maintenance cost of the building. This is also aided by construction techniques, such as in the boundary wall, which uses “rat-trap bond,” a type of brick-laying technique that reduces the overall amount of brick used.

Athenia High School is not merely a building, but an attempt to create a legacy for a transformative learning environment, where the students are always ready to explore to reach greater heights.