Omayal Achi College of Nursing, Avadi

OMAYAL ACHI College of Nursing is a residential college on the outskirts of Chennai. It is located on the Ambattur Road. The site being long and narrow apart from being only 2 acres in size posed a difficult design challenge in accommodating the requirements of the college without losing the feeling of a campus. Since the requirement fell into three clear categories these uses were distributed in the only way that was logical – the college buildings facing the road, followed by the common facilities and the residential area behind it. Beyond the hostel is the large open area which acts as a percolation area that feeds the rain water harvesting pond in addition to the surface drains from the buildings and roads.

The buildings were designed as two well-defined types - a linear four storeyed block for the administration and academic facilities and the other around an atrium for residential facilities. The transition between them became the common facilities housing the dining facilities and staff residences. The linear mass of the college building is broken by cutting out cubes at different levels for creating open and semi-open spaces as break out areas to relieve the monotony of a rigid plan. These spaces not only bring in light and ventilation to the adjacent areas but also become entrance areas on the ground floor and balconies and terraces on the upper floors.

The academic block is made up of two wings, both of the same width. The front wing is pushed back towards one side whereas the other is left resting in the centre of the site. This staggering of the two wings helped create an enlarged space at the front widening the visual field making the entrance more visible.

All vehicular movement is restricted to one side of the campus, while the other side of the buildings is purely a pedestrian space allowing students and staff to comfortably walk to the various facilities. Thus a clear separation of vehicles and pedestrians has been achieved in what is a very tight fit on the site.

The main building houses the administration facilities, library, classrooms and laboratories. It is clearly divided into two wings – one with the classrooms and labs and the other with the administration facilities, staff rooms and library. The separating space forms the reception and atrium that contains the main staircase with connecting angular links at the upper levels. It also contains an auditorium on the top floor with a seating capacity of six hundred persons.

Standard hostel designs tend to look at each occupant or group of occupants who share a room as a stand - alone entity. No thought is usually given to the idea of sharing spaces and living together much like in a home where private, semi-private, family and community spaces overlap. What follows from this is a vandalisation of corridors and other common areas, especially toilets which become alien spaces belonging to no one. To overcome these problems and to create a self regulating community, these hostels have been designed with small groups of 12 students in mind. Four three–seater rooms which share a common living space and a set of toilets meant for the group thus becomes the basic module. This arrangement of rooms facilitates interaction within each group with a sense of territory of its own.

Client : Mr AR Educational Trust

Area : 12,500 sq m

Location : Chennai

Role : Architectural & Engineering Design and Project Management

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