Jetavan, Buddhist learning center, Sameep Padora, Brick architecture, Rammed earth walls, Dung flooring, wooden rafters, Inverted roof

A Buddhist learning centre amongst rural groves

| 21 : 00 – 25 October 2018 |


Buddhist center, Jetavan, Sameep Padora and Architects, Sakharwadi

Jetavan – A Buddhist learning centre and skill development place by Sameep Padora and Associates is set among groves in rural Sakharwadi.

Constructed for holistic development of the Buddhist community, Jetavan is spread across half acre plot having over 40 trees.  Built using local materials like fly ash, quarry dust, cow dung, mud rolls and wooden rafters from old ships, the center also serves as a spiritual anchor for the community.

Jetavan, Buddhist learning center, Inverted roof, Courtyard view

A lit-up center in the evening

With a approach of ‘no harm’ to any of the existing trees, the design for the Buddhist learning centre developed around two courtyards and five building blocks. Inverted roof supported by reclaimed wooden rafters brings in daylight and assists in natural ventilation. The facilities incorporated in this community driven center includes administrative offices, prayer hall, workshop and guestrooms.

Floor plan

From the Architects – 

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 neighboring sugar factory in rural Maharashtra for the Buddhist Learning Center was thickly forested, an idyllic grove of sorts.

Jetavan, Buddhist learning center, Sameep Padora, Site plan

Site plan 

The institute was programmed as a spiritual & skill development center 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 it also imparts training and skill development for members of the community.

Approach for Buddhist learning center –

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.

Buildings link each other around courtyard


Community-driven skill development center

Further by inverting the roof profile with a center 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.

Inverted roof concept

Prayer hall, Workshop space, Mud floor, Cow dung floor, Rammed earth wall, Jetavan

Floor finished in traditional mud and dung

Local material palette –

Working closely with Hunnarshala, an institution looking to revive and resuscitate local building traditions we collated a material palate that uses rammed load bearing walls of basalt stone dust. The stone dust, which is waste from a nearby quarry, is mixed with waste fly ash.


Sketch, Mood board, Material mood board, Jetavan, Buddhist center

Sketch showing source of materials

The ash was a by-product from the adjoining factory that in the past was paying people to cart the waste fly ash away. Repurposed wood from old shipping vessels act as roof structure. While the under structure is made of mud rolls, which are also great insulation.

Jetavan, Clay tile roof, Brick architecture, Wooden rafters

Exterior view of roofing structure for the centre

The roof itself is finished with clay roof tiles, remnants from older demolished buildings. The flooring is a traditional mud and dung floor done by members of the local community, which is known to have antiseptic properties.

Rammed earth wall, Wooden rafters, Jetavan

Exterior rammed earth wall from basalt stone dust


Jetavan, Prayer hall, School, Buddhist teachings, Wooden rafters, High ceiling, Vernacular architecture

Prayer hall

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 appropriate for it’s context.

Jetavan, Prayer hall, Buddhist learning center, wooden rafters

Building block and courtyard planned around the trees

From the Client –

Jetavan is a beautiful Centre, in rural Maharashtra, built for the holistic development of the community. The half acre plot has over 40 trees, and not one was cut to make place for the centre. Jetavan was built using fly ash, quarry dust, to make the walls, cow dung for the floor, and mud rolls made from used gunny bags placed on wooden rafters from old ships for the roof.

Jetavan, Courtyard, Gathering space, tree grove, Evening photography

Courtyard enclosed by the building blocks

The centre was designed by Sameep Padora and Associates. Artisans from Hunarshala in Kutch helped build the structure, land was contributed by Godavari Biorefineries (flagship company of the Somaiya Group). The project was funded by donors from India and abroad.

Jetavan, Prayer hall, Buddhist learning center, wooden rafters, clay roof tiles

Interior view of the Prayer hall

Initiative of the Buddhist learning center – 

This is an initiative of the K. J. Somaiya Centre of Buddhist Studies, Somaiya Vidyavihar, and was conceptualised when Ven. Dhammadipa visited Sakarwadi 2 years ago, and thought that a Centre to cater all round development of the community was necessary. Many members of the community here follow Ambedkar, and follow Buddhism. Ven. Dhammadeepa felt that they must be educated in what were the basic principles of Buddhist thought. Academically, this fit in well with what the K. J. Somaiya Centre of Buddhist Studies wanted to do, as an outreach project.

Jetavan, Prayer hall, Buddhist learning center, wooden rafters

A view of the Prayer hall from the adjoining courtyard

Jetavan, Courtyard, Evening view in courtyard, Buddhist learning center

A gathering space within the courtyard

Project details :-


Project Name – Jetavan

Architect – Sameep Padora and Associates (sP +a) |

Project Location – Sakarwadi Tal- Kopargaon Dist, Vari, Maharashtra 413708 , India

Project Type – Public space, Community centre, Skill development centre

Design team – Aparna Dhareshwar, Kriti Veerappan, Karan Bhat

Construction team – Soudagar Kulal, Atul Kulkarni

Hunnarshala team – Kiran Vaghela, Tejas Kotak

Photography Credit – © Edmund Sumner

Client name – K J Somaiya Center for Buddhist Studies and Somaiya Vidyavihar Trust

Artisan Consultants and Coordinators (Hunnarshala) – Kiran Vaghela, Tejas Kotak, Bharat Chauhan, Hemant Dudhaiya

Contractors –

Layers – Rammed Earth Construction Company

Ozari Joinery

Matha Chhaj – a thatch company


Local villagers and labourers

Project Managers and Site Supervision – Saudagar Kudal, Atul Kulkarni

Structural engineer – Rajiv Shah


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