Green heaven for young Hindus
Britain's first state-funded Hindu primary school will have a grass-covered roof, a miniature temple and toilets that flush with rainwater.
As The TES reported last week, the Government wants all new schools to be carbon neutral. But plans for the Hindu school, unveiled by the architects Cottrell and Vermeulen, are aimed at creating one of the most eco-friendly schools in the UK.
As well as rainwater pumps, the Krishna-Avanti primary school in Harrow, north-west London, will use electricity from solar energy, an underground water tank to regulate temperature, and offer school meals harvested at least partly from its own vegetable patch.
Brian Vermeulen, the architect, said: "The link with nature is important in Hinduism and the idea is that the children's learning will extend into the landscape."
Meals will be blessed in the temple before they are consumed. The worship space, with its distinctive domed roof, will provide a focal point for the school, with daily sessions of morning prayer.
The temple is dedicated to the god Krishna and his brother, Balaram. Pupils will pray and observe arti, a ceremony in which symbolic offerings of incense and flowers are made to the deities.
"The famous stories of Krishna and Balaram focus on childhood pastimes and their schooldays, so we thought it appropriate," said Nitesh Gor, director of I-Foundation, the school's organiser.
The building itself is situated according to the Hindu concept of vastu, a form of feng-shui which stipulates that property should face to the north or south for a positive flow of energy.
It will be surrounded by plants with religious significance such as fig and neam trees and money plants. The roof, planted with grass-like sedum, will change from green to pink and yellow according to the seasons. It will also produce plenty of butterfly-attracting nectar.
The architect's plans, produced in response to consultation, have gone to the local authority for approval.
The school is due to open in 2008 and is partnered with the Hindu group, Iskcon.
Faith schools, page 23