Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Nazrul Tirtha: Poetry in Concrete

By Marina Correa
Photography: Abin Design Studio and Rangan Chatterjee

graphic cnc-cut formwork in exposed concrete

A museum and academic research centre dedicated to the late revolutionary poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, architecturally expresses his zealous ideas through a series of ‘twisted’ cuboids…

Located on an arterial road of a planned township in New Town Kolkata, this 90,000 sq ft (total plot size 2 acres) tribute to the renowned poet is surrounded by generic built forms with no active public spaces nearby; a prime reason that the building is conceptualized as an inward-looking breathing space amidst the dense city fabric, opines principal architect Abin Chaudhury of Abin Design Studio.

building masses surrounding a central courtyard

The building is composed of free-standing masses in the form of variously-sized twisted cuboids that are cohesively connected as an introverted mass around a central green courtyard. The architectural interweaving facilitates a break out space that can be peered into from all quarters – the openness and connectivity representational of Kazi Nazrul’s philosophical ideals. A series of spaces, from indoor to outdoor footprint a journey that is strongly evocative of the poet – what with the monolithic form, material homogeneity, natal light inter-layers and the like.

glass panelled interiors
the aesthetic language of architectural form

Skylights as primary sources of the requisite diffused light for the museum, exhibition spaces and transition areas; and water bodies not only heighten the aesthetic but also bring down the ambient temperature via evaporative cooling and are traditional architectural aspects that open up the environs to bountiful nature.

element of colour

Implementing a sustainable and cost-effective strategy, thin exterior RC walls have helped save energy, cost and time, while homogeneity of materials such as self-compacting concrete have helped reduce wastage, and provide thermal protection – aspects that have aided completion in a record 10 months despite it being a government project!

graphic elements in building exterior

Exploring innovative ways of working with concrete, the architects use CNC-cut foam as formwork on a dyed exposed concrete wall inscribing on it a few famous words of the poet, thereby introducing a contextually rooted personalized touch and a heightened aesthetic element to the fa├žade.

seating in open internal courtyard

The building strong in its architectural expression is otherwise kept subdued with cement-coloured flooring and black wall tiles with just a fiery orange-reddish hue that splashes across a handful of strategic elements – seats in the central courtyard, stairway banisters, and a large cement banner… like a stroke of lightning, a befitting paean to Kazi Islam’s unconventional philosophy. 

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