The challenge was to create a replicable design for an Aanganwadi Center in an area of 120 square metres. The centre had to be optimally designed to accommodate the needs of the staff, lactating mothers, toddlers, older children and health professionals.

Design for Change – a design ideas competition

DHFL Changing Lives Foundation Trophy I 2017-18

Anganwadis or courtyard centres are established as a part of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) services of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India to provide quality early childhood development and care to children up to 6 years of age. The centres also provide nutritional and healthcare support to pregnant and lactating mothers.

Objectives of ICDS are sought to be achieved through a package of services comprising of:

  • Supplementary Nutrition
  • Immunization
  • Health Check-up
  • Referral Services
  • Pre-school Non-Formal education and
  • Nutrition & Health Education

The concept of providing a package of services is based primarily on the consideration that the overall impact will be much larger if different services develop in an integrated manner as the efficacy of a particular service depends upon the support it receives from related services. The Anganwadi infrastructure remains pivotal to support educational, nutritional and healthcare services to children and mothers.1


The program should be informed by the objectives of the ICDS given above and should very closely follow the set of requirements specified therein. The brief is described in a set of 2 basic components which are the Body and the Mind. The design should address the requirements of both these and create a healthy and happy environment for the young ones to grow up in.


The World Health Organization considers that poor nutrition is the single most important threat to the world’s health. Adequate nutrition is a key factor to live an active and healthy life. In spite of its importance as a determinant of health and development, malnutrition is still a neglected area and too little has been done to address its causes and serious social and economic implications. The consequences of stunting on education are also dramatic.

Various studies show that child stunting is likely to impact brain development and impair motor skills. Although the brain’s relationship with food is complex, it is clear that proper nutrition during early childhood is an important part of proper brain development. Our brains require immense amounts of energy and nutrients in order to develop and run properly, and at no time is this more important than during the rapid development period of early childhood. Integrate nutrition-specific interventions within the building to cater for primary health management.

Ergonomics and comfort conditions for children of 0 to 6 years old are a primary concern. All peripheral support needed for this should be studied, imagined and needs to form a major thrust of the design. It is important to note that the change in scale of a newborn and a six-year-old is huge, so students need to address this issue specifically. Also, the caretakers' needs will have to be satisfied.

4 to 6 years children may have to be accommodated in different spaces and engaged differently than their younger counterparts. Safety of the children is paramount and special care should be taken to design environments which are hygienic, safe, well lighted and ventilated. Design should also address issues of recurring maintenance and ease of access. Hygienic conditions need to be provided for this. Special rooms need to be created for lactating mothers.


Humans are social creatures, so it’s not surprising that social behaviour has a profound effect on our brains and is important to child development. Social activities where a child is actively engaged to help encourage healthy brain development and social skills and are one of the most effective ways of keeping children happy.

Unique characteristics of the learning process of children of 3 to 6 years of ages should be studied carefully and spaces relevant to address this should be designed. Their Intellectual, social and emotional development will be impacted by the environments they grow up in. The children need to feel secure and supported as well as developing a sense of belonging to a group and engaging in positive relationships with both their peers, educators and caretakers.

The learning environment needs to cater for different learning styles and capabilities. Welcoming spaces that reflect and enhance the lives of children and families participating in the Anganwadi are crucial.

Implications for participants:

  • Learning environments must be responsive and enabling to the needs of children as well as to the intention of the educators.
  • Environments that support children to explore using all their senses and develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, persistence and imagination are important.
  • Indoor and outdoor spaces must be flexible and responsive to the interests and rights of individual children and this includes access to quiet spaces for thinking and wondering and more active spaces for sharing, laughing, building, climbing, digging, and gardening, creating, dancing and being active.
  • There needs to be an opportunity for children to make choices and develop autonomy and independence, being encouraged and supported to make more complex decisions and follow through on their interests and ideas
  • The indoor and outdoor learning environment must provide a range of spaces and opportunities for active exploration through play and the investigation of meaningful ideas including investigation with a range of technological resources and being able to problem solve, inquire, experiment, hypothesize, research and investigate
  • Children need a range of spaces to be able to fully engage in all forms of The Arts
  • Educators need quiet and private spaces to meet, discuss, reflect and plan for children’s learning.


Below are given some of the minimum facilities which are required:

  1. Main Activity Area
  2. Withdrawal Room – for lactating mothers
  3. Sleep Room
  4. Office/Administration
  5. Foyer/Entry/Reception
  6. Kitchen
  7. Bottle Preparation Area
  8. Staff Preparation Area
  9. Staff Room/Meeting Room
  10. Toilets – Children
  11. Toilets – Staff
  12. Internal Store
  13. Laundry
  14. Outdoor Learning Area
  15. Indoor playpen for 1 to 2-year-olds.


  1. For the overall above an optimum area should be worked out which will not exceed120 square meters. Use space wisely.
  2. Designs should be replicable in a wide variety of locations throughout India. The context here may have to be addressed differently.
  3. The participants may consider overlapping functions to reduce on the overall built-up area.
  4. The participants should use adaptability and hygiene as key aspects.
  5. Judicious use of materials is suggested. Be inventive, cost-effective and clever in the application.
  6. Ventilation should be such that spaces should be free from bad odours, so orientation is important, to use the wind direction effectively.
  7. Please note all the people who will actually use the space, and design with ergonomics in mind.
  8. Above all, try to make this a “Happy Place” for all.


  1. The drawings SHALL be presented in 2nos A0 size sheets.
  2. Drawings will be for concept development, through design development stages to understand the overall architecture. Plans, sections and elevations plus 3ds will be important in explaining the design.
  3. Design ideas should be presented clearly indicating abstract themes if any.
  4. Sustainability shall be a given, and specific measures will have to be clarified.
  5. An economy of space usage and material considerations shall be specifically examined since this is a project to be executed at a later stage.


  1. Maximum weight (65%) will be given to the quality of design innovation and comprehensive architectural thought.
  2. 25% marks will be for the constructability of the design.
  3. 10% marks will be for presentation quality.

DHFL2Changing Lives Foundation Design for Change Trophy 2017 Prize:

Three winners adjudged, will be conferred first, second and third prize, including a Trophy and cash prize as indicated below:

  • First Prize: INR. 2 lakh only
  • Second Prize: INR. 1.5 lakh only
  • Third Prize: INR. 1 lakh

The prize money will be equally distributed to respective winning team members.

DHFL Changing Lives Foundation will also replicate the ‘model’ or a combination of suggestions from the ‘models’ presented as ‘child-friendly model anganwadis’ in its programme locations and at its discretion.

The First Prize Winners will also be eligible to apply for a scholarship/ grant to the DHFL Changing Lives Foundation, for academic and/or professional excellence to further their knowledge and intervention in the area of Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE) in India. The scholarship details (scholarship or grant amount, eligibility criteria, application & decision making process and any other terms & conditions) will be provided to the First Prize Winners by the DHFL Changing Lives Foundation.

  • 1. For further information: s+under+the+ICDS
  • 2. About DHFL Changing Lives Foundation & Early Childhood Care & Education Programme delivered through Anganwadis: 

    DHFL Changing Lives Foundation is established by Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Limited (DHFL), one of India’s leading financial institutions, to take forward its Vision of changing lives by encouraging equal opportunity, maximizing human development and leveraging the aspirations of youth, women and vulnerable populations.

    The DHFL Changing Lives Foundation strives to provide children with full growth opportunities and manages the flagship CSR programme of DHFL under ‘Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE)’ along with other initiatives that could strengthen the overall development and growth of children, women and communities. Early Childhood Care & Education or ECCE refers to programmes for children from prenatal to six years of age.

    These programmes cater to their needs in all domains of development, i.e. physical, motor, language, cognitive, socio-emotional, and creative & aesthetic appreciation, and ensure synergy with health and nutrition.

    The programme is delivered in collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Child Development and is designed to strengthen the delivery of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) services through Anganwadi centres or courtyard centres.