top of page


ModSkool- An Example of Decolonised Design

ModSkool was developed by the Social Design Collaborative for farming communities in India in order to provide relief from the constant threat of demolition. The school has been designed to be quickly dismantled and re-erected to minimise the impact to children’s education should their settlement be declared illegal and demolished. The school is made from low cost, locally available materials such as bamboo and dried grass and is also constructed with the use of the local craft of ‘chapari’. This approach is cost-effective and also requires the employment of local skills helping to create a sense of ownership within the community. It also employs pluriversal as opposed to universal approaches. This ensures the design meets the specific needs of the community, allowing them to be self-reliant, and also moves away from the colonial ideology of imposing new, westernised technologies onto communities with established indigenous knowledge systems. This decolonised approach to design will enable ‘multiple worlds and knowledges’ to ‘flourish in mutually enhancing ways’ (Abdulla, Danah, et al. ,2019). Furthermore, the school has been designed in accordance to the teaching ideologies already in place, which focuses on a holistic and sustainable education. In response there are large pivoting doors and windows which enable an open learning space to allow the children to be close to nature.

In addition to being an excellent example of social design, the school also helps promote environmental and economic sustainability. This is done through the use of small-scale technologies which employ the ‘Design with Nature’ approach, which places an emphasis on designing with regard to both the ecology and character of the landscape. In turn, this can also enable communities to gain a stronger sense of place and identity. The dismantlable design of the ModSkool can also provide protection from natural hazards such as heavy floods which occur regularly on the floodplains. Economic sustainability is further instilled through the internally sourced materials which contributes to the circular economy of the community.

Comparatively, a standard western design for schools would include materials such as reinforced concrete or red bricks, such as Broughton Primary School. This provides a durable, long-lasting structure. However, implementing this design for a school would not provide the children in India reassurance for a stable education, despite the threat of demolition. Additionally, in the long term, it could lead to wasted materials and resources and still leave the communities in need of aid. Furthermore, it would also not take into consideration the teaching ideologies in practice already, further affecting the children’s education. Therefore, it would not be considered social design.

Thus, by taking this pluriversal approach to design, ModSkool provides the community with a coping mechanism from the constant threat of demolition and natural hazards. It gives the community independence and allows them to be self-reliant, using local skills, materials, practices and ideologies to ensure the continuance of indigenous knowledge without the imposition of westernised technologies, making it an excellent example of social design. 

Figure 1- ModSkool 


Abdulla, D., Ansari, A., Canli, E., Keshavarz, M., Kiem, M., Oliveira, P., Prado, L. and Schultz, T., 2019. A Manifesto for Decolonising Design.

Astbury Jon. 2020. School for squatters in India can be dismantled to evade bulldozers. [Online]. [Accessed 14 February 2022]. Available from:

Boughton Primary School. 2022. The homepage of Boughton Primary school. [Online]. [Accessed 14 February 2022]. Available from: 2022. Modskool. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 15 February 2022].

Design Museum. 2021. ModSkool. [online] [Accessed 14 February 2022]. Available at: < ol%20that,the%20Yamuna%20river%20in%20India.&text=The%20school's%20design%20mirrors%20its,that%20includes%20issues% 20of%20sustainability..>

the DESIGN MUSEUM ModSkool Available at:
[Accessed 24th April 2023].

bottom of page