Historically through today, Indian women have been of lower status than men, especially in the Murshidibad district, one the most backward in the country in terms of women’s equality. Because of this gender bias, programs are emerging all over India to empower women by teaching them vocational skills to help with issues such as malnutrition, sanitation and poverty.
The Murshidibad resource center is located in Jangipur, a medium sized city in the state of West Bengal. It is a collection of various resources that could help these women, giving them choices in how and what they learn.
The goal was to find a way to organize separate topics into one building, having them remain distinct and yet connected. Conceptually, the building became “stepping stones,” since visitors can jump from one separate resource to another. The four “stones” were organized in sequence, increasing in height from basic diet needs to sanitation, financial stability and finally, literacy.
The project would be distinct buildings, except bridges are embedded into these masses, connecting the four. The library hangs inside the steel bridges, so the women can access information independently, and from any building. They also provide horizontal and vertical circulation paths, and organize double and triple height spaces through the building, providing light and air flow.
Women visiting this building could research in the library, learn a technical skill or receive medical help. They have the opportunity to partake in classes or just ask questions. They can share ideas with other women on how to improve their lives. Overall, the goal is that this building provides an open resource for women to improve their communities and empower themselves.