The Magic Bus Learning Pavilion is partly a building, partly a challenge course. It is an interactive building used as a gathering space and play area for underprivileged children while they are on their weekend camps. Sponsored by the Laureus Foundation, it is located on the Magic Bus Centre for Experiential Learning.
The 25-acre Magic Bus campus is situated near Mumbai in the Sahyadri Hills. Magic Bus works with children and young people taking them on a journey from Childhood to Livelihood and out of poverty. By enabling children to complete secondary education, delay their age of marriage, and skilling young people to be in jobs, the organisations helps moving a generation out of the vicious cycle of poverty.
The Magic Bus Centre for Outdoor Learning and Development was built in 2006 to offer an opportunity to discover how the expansive outdoors can help people nurture and develop their personal and interpersonal skills. It seeks to educate and mentor children through outdoor “experiential” learning.
The valleys of the Sahyadri Hills supply a unique variety of diverse terrains to be experienced by the children. Rivers, woods, nature trails, camping grounds, and expansive green lawns for soccer promote the NGO’s concept of “learning by doing”.
The first Phase of this project comprising of children’s dormitories, a dining pavilion, volunteers accommodation and resources centre was designed by Rahul Mehrotra Associates.
Magic Bus commissioned Architecture BRIO to design the campus masterplan for the second Phase of the Centre. A study of the existing conditions, the strengths and weaknesses of the centre preceded the masterplan. Hereafter the masterplan proposed strategic interventions in the campus to optimise the existing resources and introduce new program.
The masterplan recommended to extend the campus with staff accommodation, a learning pavilion for children and facilitation centre for corporates, a children’s village and some additions to kitchen and administrative facilities.
As the budget for the Learning Pavilion was considerably low, the structure is designed as economical as possible. It therefore attempts to use the least amount of materials with the maximum amount of covered, shaded spaces. This is accomplished through the use of steel columns and a lightweight roof. The structure remains open from all sides, par the toilets and storage areas, which provide support to the two deck areas. This open structure creates a comfortable environment through the natural breeze that flows from the river cooling the covered spaces. Additionally it allows the river to be experienced through the building from the sports field.
Access and circulation to the two decks on the upper floor is provided in two ways. A series of steps up the hill ends on a cement floored children’s game area. This area doubles as a viewing platform of the sports field during the soccer matches played here. On the other side of the building a ladder takes you to the upper floor deck.
The cantilevered timber deck across the stream is connected with a custom made timber and steel ropes bridge. The bouncy ropes bridge obstacle course makes the otherwise conventional passage from one activity space to another an exciting event. It also becomes a viewing gallery, from which to instruct and cheer climbers using the Jacob’s ladder.
Below the timber deck a series of steel mesh double doors enclose a watersports store room with kayaks and canoes. This deck projects out over the sports field and becomes a viewing platform of the surrounding trees. Two wooden climbing ladders take the children down to the granite stone paved ground floor.
In effect it makes the pavilion a continuation of the challenge course at the Magic Bus Centre. The airy, double height spaces will be used as an activity zone to play games, watch soccer matches, build rafts, or just enjoy the shade.
Magic Bus Masterplan and Learning Pavilion
Sustainability, Innovation, Context, Flexibility
7.4 Ha. Masterplan
Masterplan for the extensions of the Magic Bus Centre; facilitation centers, staff accommodations, children’s village
Learning Pavilion for children with gathering spaces, activity areas and water sports
Masterplan of Magic Bus Outdoor Learning Centre
Children playing soccer on the campus
The landscape of the Magic Bus Centre is in stark contrast to the daily living conditions of most children in space-starved Mumbai where outdoor play areas are scarce.
The inauguration of the pavilion
The lightweight structure of the pavilion consisting of dark green painted steel columns and a semi-transparent roof allows it to disappear in the background.
The Learning Pavilion is located on a confluence of four important landscape elements.
A seasonal stream turns around a hillock and culminates in a river while flanking an existing soccer field.
Axonometric of building components
View of physical model from roof
Soccer field view of the physical model. The Learning Pavilion for Children has a uniquely specific and at the same time, open program.
From the soccer field a log bridge placed on excavated rocks leads you over the stream to the hillock.
A cement floored children’s game area becomes a viewing platform of the sports field during the soccer matches played here.
The cantilevered timber deck across the stream is connected with a custom made timber / steel ropes bridge.
The bouncy ropes bridge makes an otherwise conventional passage from one activity space to another an exciting event.
Section through rope bridge
Test model of rope bridge
Wooden climbing ladders take the children up to the timber deck
Below the timber deck a watersports store room with kayaks and canoes is enclosed by a series of steel mesh double doors.
Detail section (part B)
Detail section (part A)
The Learning Pavilion becomes a part of Challenge Course at the Magic Bus Centre.
The pavilion encourages and challenges children to overcome their boundaries.
Sport and activity as an integral part of the pavilion, brings to life Magic Bus’s philosophy of social change through sport
photograph by: Rob Thomas