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Written and Contributed by

Sameep Padora & Associates
Mumbai, Maharashtra.


Jetavan in rural Maharashtra is built for the holistic development of the community. The centre is built with locally-sourced re-purposed materials with the mandate of not harming a single tree on site.

What is the project about?

In Buddhist mythology, Jetvana is the name of one the Buddha’s most important spatial edifice which when literally translated means: the grove of Jeta, land donated to the sangha for founding a monastery. It was of semiotic significance that the site offered by Samir Somaiya owner of the neighbouring sugar factory in rural Maharashtra for the Buddhist Learning Center was thickly forested, an idyllic grove of sorts. The institute was programmed as a spiritual & skill development centre for the native Dalit Baudh Ambedkar Buddhist community. The mandate of Jetavana is to provide a spiritual anchor for their practice of Buddhist thought through meditation and yoga while also imparting training and skill development for members of the community. 

Through the design process, two courtyards emerged as links suturing these buildings into a common identity. Further by inverting the roof profile with a central valley in the middle and rising edges, the interior spaces were visually connected with the foliage outside. The interior spaces hence are also a function of the outside setting, with a lightness that belies the heavy programs on site. The separation of the roof from the walls while providing much-needed cross ventilation also scales the building towards the courtyard. 

Working closely with Hunnarshala, an institution looking to revive and resuscitate local building traditions. Our approach to the Jetavan project looks to extend the idea of the regional paradigm whilst separating it from the pervasive ‘image’ of what defines the local. The construction process also sets out an approach that looks to further construction techniques based on local materiality not necessarily used natively but appropriates for its context.

Project Funded by

Somaiya Trust

Stakeholders Involved

Sameep Padora & Associates (sP+a):
Aparna Dhareshwar
Kriti Veerappan
Karan Bha

Kiran Vaghela
Tejas Kotak

What is the impact?

The stone dust, a waste from a nearby quarry is mixed with waste fly ash for walls. Repurposed wood from old shipping vessels acts as roof structure, with the understructure made of mud rolls, which are also great insulation. The roof itself is finished with clay roof tiles, remnants from older demolished buildings.

With the mandate of not harming a single tree on site, the sizable program was split up into 6 buildings each situated in gaps between the heavy planting. Through the design process, two courtyards emerged as links suturing these buildings into a common identity. 

Images by Edmund Sumner | © all rights reserved

Technical Drawings:
Drawings by Sameep Padora & Associates | © all rights reserved

Links to read more:

A link to the project.

About Sameep Padora & Associates:

As a practice, we at sP+a believe that India’s vast breadth of socio-cultural environments requires multifarious means of engaging with the country’s varying contexts. Type, Program, Design and Building processes are subservient to the immediacy of each project’s unique frame of reference. Our practice questions the nostalgia involved with the static ‘museumification’ of craft and tradition as well as the nature of what today comprises the ‘regional’ in contexts amplified by their place in global and regional networks. This attitude enables the practice to look at traditional project types, projecting their formal/relational history within the paradigms of current socio-economic forces.

The studio structure actively engages with research, collaborations and collective models of practice not as isolated individual formats but as symbiotic streams feeding into each other. We advocate this hybrid model as an alternative to the traditional architectural practice, believing that this enables us to respond to the specificity of the local by evolving methodologies of extreme subjectivity