The Rajkumari Ratnavati Girls' School is a fantastical structure that sits atop sprawling acres in the heart of the mystic Thar Desert in Rajasthan, India. The school was designed by a woman for women to stand as a beacon in its desert kingdom of Jaisalmer. The oval shape serves as a symbol of empowerment meant to represent femininity and infinity, as well as blend seamlessly into the planes of sand-dunes in the region, with striking curved walls reminiscent of Jaisalmer’s famous fort. It serves more than 400 girls, kindergarten-class 10, from below the poverty line residing in the region where female literacy barely touches 36%. The school aims to equip young women with the tools to further their education and raise awareness surrounding the issues faced by women in India on a global scale. Since the building was built for a nonprofit to support girls’ education, every effort was made toward economic design. Sustainability was of utmost importance with the structure built entirely by all local craftsmen—often the fathers of the girls—using hand-carved Jaisalmer sandstone. Traditional architecture and building techniques were combined with indigenous heritage details so that the structure felt authentic to the region.


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