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education environment wellness

Riverbend School

School in India designed to shift focus onto mental health and wellness

The school where happiness comes first

Riverbend School is a weekday boarding school near Chennai, India. Its mission is to raise children who go out and contribute to the world. To get children in the right mindset, the school focuses on their happiness and emotional intelligence.

A school focusing on happiness needs its environment to do the same. So how do we design a campus that makes kids happy? We turn to science.

The world’s longest study on happiness, conducted at Harvard, shows that true happiness comes from relationships. Anthropologists like Helena Norberg-Hodge have found that the strongest relationships are formed by people living in a village. So, if you want extremely happy people with great relationships, raise them in a village.

To bring this to Riverbend, we studied what makes villages special and then applied that the the design of the school’s campus and buildings. There‚Äôs a public plaza. Intimate walkways. Outdoor pavilions. Courtyard houses. Lush gardens. Kids even grow crops and raise livestock.

At the heart of the campus village is a public plaza for events and gatherings, a commons that hosts the school community for meals and performances, and an art gallery for the artist-in-residence.

Pursuing passions

As kids work on their passion projects, they can move to whichever space makes them happiest — chat lab, ideation space, build barn, fabrication lab, media studio, den, breakout rooms, presentation space, and even outdoor pavilions.

Maker spaces are intentionally located near the middle school, since high schoolers use them more and this increases chances of younger and older kids crossing paths and forming relationships.

Student housing promotes community

The student housing was modeled after traditional Chinese Fujian tulou communal housing. Each block has a central square and functions like the larger village. Each floor is also its own “village” with central commons space.

The school’s design promotes wellness — physical and mental — as a path to happiness. Kids have access to world-class fitness facilities, meditation spaces, and acres of lush gardens and water features.

Thanks to Kurani, we have people writing to us from all over the world wanting to support us.

<strong>Indira Reddy</strong><br>Co-Founder, Riverbend School

Indira Reddy
Co-Founder, Riverbend School

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