You won’t find the students at Riverbend School near Chennai, India in a traditional classroom – they might be in an ideation laboratory or a meditation room. The school is planning to focus on personal happiness, and turning out children who will give back to the world in a positive way. Designed by architecture studio Kurani, the campus of the Riverbend School was inspired by villages – where, according to anthropologists, personal relationships are strongest.

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Riverbend School will be a 400-student weekday boarding school dedicated to teaching happiness. The school’s founders, entrepreneurs at SPI Incubator, believe great achievements and lives are built on a foundation of emotional intelligence and personal happiness – which they think are overlooked in traditional education, according to Kurani.

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So they’re starting a school for middle and high school students that will prioritize those ideals. Kurani took the question: “How can architecture foster happiness?” as a launching point, and found in the longest study on happiness in the world that “real happiness comes from our relationships.” And as relationships are strong in villages, they modeled the layout of the campus after a village. “The school centers around a public plaza and has spaces for studying, playing, reflecting, living, and farming. Every aspect – intimate walkways, outdoor pavilions, traditional courtyard housing – encourages socializing,” Kurani said on their website.

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Prepping for standardized tests won’t be part of Riverbend School’s curriculum. Students will decide the topics they wish to learn, and learn through experience, according to Fast Company. They might code software for a rocket launcher or recite poems in a seminar on classical Indian literature or launch a business in a campus incubator. Faculty will serve as mentors and coaches, and teach students on living a happier life drawing on resources like ancient Hindu texts. The goal is for students to be exposed to a wide range of subjects as they discover how to learn about skills or subjects that personally interest them.

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The team is still working out how to bridge the gap between Indian educational regulations and their approach. Co-founder Vivek Reddy told Fast Company, “It’s not a school for everyone,” acknowledging some parents won’t like the approach. There will be an institute at the Riverbend School where researchers will delve into the school’s effectiveness. Construction on the school is slated to begin later this year, and could be complete in 2020.

+ Kurani

+ Riverbend School

Via Fast Company

Images via Kurani

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