A TALK WITH AR. ABIN CHAUDHURI

Updated: Oct 2, 2018


  • WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE ARCHITECTURE?

The design of the building 'SEN HOUSE' in Calcutta, by Charles Correa in 1962, drew me towards Architecture, and inspired me to take it up as a profession.



  • WHAT IS YOUR DESIGN PHILOSOPHY?

We believe architecture is an artistic expression as far as it transcends its purely utilitarian, technical and rational realm and turns into a metaphoric expression of the lived world, human condition and context. Our aim is to provide a ‘soul in the shell’, a philosophy that has stayed with the practice from its initiation. The hunger for Utopian designs have partly evolved into the realization that good design has the power to retain its flavour, while creating a larger-than-life impact on the society as well, as such making it a responsibility of the practice to create such impactful architecture in all its efforts.


  • WHAT IS THE MANTRA THAT YOU'VE RELIED ON IN BALANCING FUNCTIONING WITH AESTHETICS?

As a studio aiming to search for the perfect vocabulary for each project, the balance comes as a result of several experiments with materials, technology and ideology. The core of this path is about being "unafraid of exploring unfamiliar things".


  • CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE SKILLS THAT HAVE SERVED YOU BEST IN YOUR CAREER?

We try to deliver every design at a very fundamental level. Our aim is to approach every project with a new thought, its own unique design vocabulary. This is important because every project is unique, with its specific location, context, requirements, and of course the end user. It seems easy when one says it out loud, but one has to understand the social aspects, the significance of the materials used, economics of each project, and the users’ response. Our philosophy of experimentation with design, technology and materials requires several drawing and visualization tools, with a parallel understanding of spaces through prototyping at different scales. As the project idea demands, our tools of working keep evolving.


  • WHAT ARE THE THINGS A BUDDING ARCHITECT SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO WHILE HANDLING HIS PROJECTS?

We have been fortunate enough to start off with very large scale institutional buildings in the early days of the practice. It provided with a clear lesson of the experience required to handle such large projects and the need for an attention to detail in all aspects from site planning, to architecture as well as the interiors. It also unveiled that the economics of architecture involved in such projects is quite different from usual design, in terms of allocation of resources, design intent and manpower, while keeping in context with the local environment as well as the client's needs.


  • MENTION FEW OF YOUR NOTABLE PROJECTS AND WHY ARE THEY CLOSE TO YOU.

ADS has had the opportunity to reach several milestones since its inception, across various scales and been bestowed several prestigious awards and recognition in the field as well as in the public eye. Some of them are enumerated below:


6 Ballygunge Place: an eminent mansion-turned-restaurant in Kolkata, which has synchronized dining experience with the rich cultural heritage of Bengal.


6 BALLYGUNG PLACE

Bamboo Pavilion: built for a local socio-religious festival, the pavilion acted as a temporary temple sheltering the deity, considering the re-usability of locally available materials.


BAMBOO PAVILION


International Management Institute, Bhubneswar: an institutional campus presenting a timeless piece of architecture which bridges the gap between the past and the present cultural and social life.


INTERNATIONAL MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE, BHUBNESHWAR


International Management Institute, Kolkata: situated in a very dense residential urban fabric, the vision has been to give an expressive, vibrant, technologically advanced and sustainable institute to add colour to city life.


INTERNATIONAL MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE, KOLKATA


Nazrul Tirtha, a museum and academic research centre, paying tribute to the revolutionary poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, attempting to reflect his philosophy and ideals through the design.


NAZRUL TIRTHA

New town School: a redevelopment project in Kolkata, the school was required to make an impact and establish a distinct identity. The facade was developed as signage.


NEW TOWN SCHOOL,KOLKATA


  • WHERE DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE OF INDIA'S ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGNING IN THE NEXT UPCOMING FIVE YEARS?

Not just individual buildings, but the need for input of design in urban infrastructure is being realized across the country. The upgradation needs to be addressed in three parts, through software, hardware and urban governance. The 'software' should be urban awareness and responsiveness of people, followed by provision of 'hardware', creating infrastructure and showcasing their efficient utilization. Basic public utilities need to be fulfilled as an initial step, such as bus shelters, public toilets, barrier-free footpaths, healthcare.


  • WHO HAS BEEN YOUR INSPIRATION IN DESIGN?

Looking back I feel that my childhood, my upbringing inspired me the most as that changed my thought process and the way I perceived the world. I have always considered my father to be my mentor in every way. The values he instilled upon me came from his ideals of honesty, dedication in every aspect of life and the tenacity to follow through dreams.


  • WHAT ARE FEW OF YOUR FAVOURITE ARCHITECTURE/DESIGN PIECES AROUND THE WORLD?

Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya by Charles Correa. The modesty and intimacy of the spaces, something very different from memorial projects, but still showcasing an unusual power in the design and evoking a sentiment of serenity just through the design.


GANDHI SMARAK SANGRAHALAYA by CHARLES CORREA


  • SHARE SOME OF YOUR VALUABLE ADVICE FOR OUR READERS TO GET INSPIRED OF.

Responsible design is the need of the hour, to stay in context, especially with the physical environment. We can contribute towards the society in a much bigger way, not only satisfying the needs of the private client or work within the boundaries, but should be able to act beyond, physically realizing the ideas for public. An initiative of ours, Kolkata Architecture Foundation, celebrates the festivity of India while intervening in temporal objects in public space, to increase awareness of societal issues. Intervention in public spaces and introduction of a better quality of social life through good design can be made through pro bono practice as well as through goodwill of the clients and civic authorities.

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