Punyashlok Ahilyadevi Holkar Public Space

"When your team came and did drone mapping, community workshops, etc. you informed and involved everyone in the village, your actions are making everyone happy."

-- Shri Raj Kumar Marthe Ji, District President of Dhangar Sangharsh Samaj Samiti (DSSS)

We have partnered with the Government of Maharashtra to design and build 57 community halls in villages throughout Maharashtra built in honor of Ahilyadevi Holkar, the revered 18th century warrior queen. The community halls are not only meant to act as a structure for special events, but also as a hub for everyday village life. Thus, the exterior of the community halls are conceived as public spaces operating both together with and independently of the community halls. While the design of each community hall has slight modifications, each public space surrounding the community hall is site-specific.

Both passive and active recreation elements are incorporated in the design. Shaded seating areas are combined with children's play areas and volleyball courts. Large flowering shade trees are planted on the west and south-west directions of the sites to provide protection from the harsh summer sun. A total of 358 trees and 228 shrubs will be planted across the community hall sites, amounting to 517,749 kilograms of CO2 absorbed per year.




2018 - Ongoing


Research + Public Participation + Design


Alpa Nawre, Saurabh Lohiya, Gaurav Lohiya, Lilian Cooper, Liga Brammanis, Carolyn Angius, Arunraj VR, Vipin Chavan, Alysoun Wright, Caroline Craddock, Camila Huber, Danni Jin, Zhenfang Chen, Rahul Sahu, Parmeshwar Vaishnav

Public Space Plan: The area surrounding the Punyashlok Ahilyadevi Community Halls will function as a gathering place for both passive and active recreation for all genders and age groups.

Site-Specific Design: The site design of each community hall design has been adapted to fit its specific context.

Surrounding Environment: Landscape architecture intern Zhenfang Chen shares his impressions of the community halls while on-site in Khedi, Maharashtra.

In Indian village societies, males and females do not mix in public spaces. More often than not, women are excluded from public spaces. For this reason, we have proposed separate male and female public space on either side of the community hall. In the male area, a volleyball court provides a source of active recreation, while seating under the shade of flowering trees with children's play equipment provides a social space for women.


A generous plinth surrounding the community hall encourages indoor-outdoor exchange and place to gather even when the community hall is closed. Outdoor recreation elements such as volleyball courts, seat walls, children's play spaces, and outdoor cooking spaces are included in the landscape plans for the community halls to cater to different age-groups and events.

Active and Passive Programming: The public space surrounding each community hall includes a combination of active and passive programming that caters to gender/culture norms.

Shade, Scent, and Symbolism: Each site will be planted with low-maintenance, livestock-resistance vegetation. This vegetation will not only provide shade, but in many cases will also serve a symbolic cultural meaning. For example, the Indian Lilac, known as neem in Hindi, is praised for its medicinal values. Likewise, in addition to its lovely scent and pop of color, the chafa flowers are popularly used as ornament for married women and planted in the women's public space.

Post-construction, villagers will participate in creating a community art mural and tree-planting as part of the co-construction of the public space.