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Press Release

Mithun designs a new school for children in Mumbai

SEATTLE — 05.14.2009 — From the hit movie, Slumdog Millionaire, people around the world have caught a glimpse of India’s rapidly changing urban environments. High-tech high-rise communities are rising out of slums, creating neighborhoods poised for participation in global activities. Mithun is entering this world as the designer of the new International School at Bandra-Kurla, just north of downtown Mumbai.

The 150,000 sf project for 810 children (K-12) will join a new business district with market-rate residential high-rises along the Mithi River. Each of the school’s four levels will include open space designed for gatherings where students will collaborate and socialize. This kind of unstructured learning departs significantly from India’s existing education system, but is hoped will inspire children to succeed in ways that cross cultural boundaries, both nationally and internationally. The goal is to establish a model that will appeal to other developing neighborhoods in the area and allow the concept to grow.

“Mithun is looking at India’s construction codes and methods as opportunities for innovation,” says Don Carlson AIA, project architect. “We’ll include a lot of open areas for light, and raise the first level on stilts to make a play space underneath.” Mithun has given the client a homework assignment: Identify the aspects of India’s culture, values and spirituality that should be represented in the school. Designers then will work to find ways for the primarily concrete and glass structure to embody them.

Sustainability is integral to the concept. Shallow depths and operable windows will maximize natural lighting and ventilation. As water and sun are abundant in this region, Mithun sees their potential as resources to benefit the project’s design. For example, water harvesting systems will process excess during the monsoons, as well as grey and black water; open play areas between levels will offer shade and breezes as reprieves from the heat.

“Creating sustainable, innovative learning environments for children has been one of our most cherished opportunities at Mithun,” says David Goldberg AIA, the principal in charge. “We’re honored to help craft a new place of learning for the children of Mumbai that will grow naturally from their local culture and ecosystem.”

Bhagat Patil of the Kasegaon Education Society ( envisions the new International School as an independent education designed to bring children the joy of discovery. The model is based on the University Child Development School (UCDS) in Seattle (, also designed by Carlson. The UCDS will be collaborating with Mithun and Patil to help develop the new school’s educational programs and spaces.

The son of a visionary educator, Patil is working to continue his father’s legacy. In 1945, the elder Patil started the Kasegaon program to reach underserved children in India’s rural villages. Since then, Kasegaon has become one of India’s leading educational societies – expanding opportunities for students of all backgrounds, interests and ages. Current efforts are focusing on Mumbai’s rapidly developing suburbs, recognized for needing schools to grow as healthy mixed-use communities.

Design development is underway for Phase 1. The program is planned as follows:

Phase 1

  • 65,000 sf elementary school
  • 15,000 sf office space
  • 10 apartments for faculty and visiting scholars

Phase 2

  • 80,000 sf expansion for middle and high school
  • 30,000 sf office space + underground parking

Phase 3

  • 140,000 sf reserved for future educational and office uses

About Mithun

Mithun is a leading sustainable design practice that creates lasting places for people. The firm’s innovative and collaborative spirit encompasses architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, urban planning, and ecology — a multidisciplinary approach that integrates nature, technology and design. Mithun’s commitment to sustainability extends to mixed-use, corporate, commercial, residential, civic, science and technology, higher education, retail, senior living, and environmental learning.

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