Rooted in “responsible architecture”, Abin Chaudhuri’s eponymous practice extensively employs locally sourced materials in its projects. A quirky designer and inspired entrepreneur, his work creates spaces that respond to the changing sociocultural, economic and environmental traits. With an emphasis on sustainability, he collaborates with designers, leaders and local communities to improve his design. Chaudhuri promotes and encourages contemporary urban planning and development as well as fuses modern architecture, traditional craft and design.
The practice believes that architecture is not merely about creation, but is a search – from social aspects to the mechanics of spaces and forms, from the beauty of light and shadow to striking a harmony with nature, it is essentially a continuing process of discovery and cohesion in the world.
International Management Institute, Bhubaneswar
The architecture of IMI Bhubaneswar aimed at presenting a timeless piece of design, which bridges the gap between the past and present cultural and social life of the people of Orissa. Instead of letting the treasures be a part of the past, the design team has attempted to recreate them in a modern setting, as an ode to the roots that grow with time.
Due to the extreme tropical summer temperatures, the structures have been designed and oriented to minimise heat gain and reduce the use of electro-mechanical energy. Interactive zones for students to spill out, unwind or just be inspired are an essential part of campus design. Thus, a lot of attention has been paid to spatial quality of the central plaza – the interactive node of the campus. A central water court acts as a natural exhaust by cooling the air passing over it and the iconic tower in the centre of the plaza acts as a windbreaker. It also helps in evaporative cooling, thereby controlling micro climate of the nodal plaza.
Locally available laterite and khondalite has been extensively used as material for the outdoor areas. Waterbodies throughout the site act as catchment areas catering to the dual purpose of water conservation and controlling the microclimate of the site.
International Management Institute, Kolkata
As an answer to a brief that called for the most expressive, vibrant, technologically advanced and sustainable institute, the building’s design brought about colours to the city life, reviving its fading cultural expression. Located in a very dense residential urban fabric, the structure’s chromatic glass façade comprises of two layers of 5mm clear glass each with an intermediate PVB layer, 1.2mm thick, that acts as an insulator, reducing the heat build up inside. The façade becomes more dynamic by night when the lights are switched on, having a mesmerising effect on the plaza below. Special efforts were made to ensure creation of non-monotonous spaces, which did not follow expected linear pattern of the site.
Circulation spaces and spill out zones have been created along the curved glass façade, allowing them to be naturally lit in the day and giving them a more interesting and dynamic feel. The reception has been designed as a triple-height space naturally lit by a huge skylight. The corridors and spill-out spaces culminate around the upper floor levels. Colour has subtly been introduced in the interiors as well in the form of coloured glass partitions, coloured glass slits on the wall or simply in the furniture.
Nazrul Tirtha – Museum & Research Centre, Kolkata
Essentially a museum and academic research centre that pays tribute to Kazi Nazrul Islam, the great revolutionary poet of Bengal, design of the building was perceived as an attempt to reflect his philosophy and ideals. Located on a main arterial road of a planned township in the city, the museum is surrounded by generic built forms with no active public spaces nearby. Thus, with an aim to create breathing space amidst the dense city fabric, the structure, a simplistic and introverted building, creates an urban contrast with its existing setting.
The sculptural design approach articulates the context of the life of the poet. The fragmented massing around a courtyard forms a central green relief space. Taller massing towards the South West ensures that this public zone stays shaded through the day. Additionally, the courtyard is designed to act as a source of diffused natural light to the interior spaces. Considering nature of the functions within, it was important to restrict exposure to direct sunlight. The use of thin exterior RC walls saved energy, cost and time while providing essential protection from the harsh sun.
The monolithic yet sculptural exposed concrete form reflects boldness and purity, characteristics intrinsic to the poet himself. An indigenous sculptural feature wall has been devised with an inscribed abstraction of the poet’s most admired poem. CNC cut foam has been used as formwork on a dyed exposed concrete wall to achieve the desired effect – a first in the country.
The Newtown School, Kolkata
As seen in most of the firm’s other project, the facade plays a critical role in creating an identity for the school, located in an ostensibly simple neighbourhood. The approach was to create a screen that wraps around the buildings and unifies the two blocks visually.
Graphical representations of symbols, alphabets and numbers became an inspiration for the screen. Basing on the psychological pattern of how children perceive alphabets as they grow, familiar shapes and symbols were used to create a bespoke stencil screen around an existing unremarkable building mass. The facade not only provides shade to the classrooms from the harsh sun but also lends the school a distinct character.