By Udita Chaturvedi
Photography: Courtesy DFI
Rising up to the challenge of decongesting and structuring devotee-traffic to Kolkata’s Dakshineshwar Kali Temple, Design Forum International (DFI) follow the tried and tested ‘Form-follows-Function’ principle to bridge the tradition vs. technology divide...
The West Bengal government’s demand was direct: They wanted a solution for segregation of traffic and pedestrian movement while ensuring the livelihood of shopkeepers, ease of movement for commuters and the safety of the devotees.
Tackling the multiple and burgeoning problems of congested lanes, high vehicular traffic, increased local shops and a throng of devotees walking down the Rani Rashmoni Road, DFI conceptualized a contemporary dynamic solution - a skywalk.
Ensuring seamless connectivity from the point of disembarkation (railway station and bus stop) to the temple gates without disrupting vehicular traffic, their concept details the transfer of pedestrians and shops to an elevated con-course (380 metres long and 10.5 metres wide), thereby leaving the road below for vehicular traffic, with segregated lanes for motorised (6-metre wide) and non-motorised (2-metre wide) vehicles.
Structurally, the skywalk is an extremely basic formation — a tube mounted on top of a platform supported on pillars. It ends in the temple compound, and has a provision for 12 escalators, four elevators and eight staircases. The elevated con-course relocates over 200 shops (2 metre x 2 metre size and 2.5 metre in height) that are at present operating on the footpath along the Rani Rashmoni Road. At every 8 metres, is a buffer space of about 85 sq. metres that acts as a place for rest and amenities such as café, information desk and water fountains.
Ingrained into its make-up are aspects of: modularity - the entire stretch is divided into modules of 8 metres; fluidity - it’s seamless and its shape accentuates a curvilinear profile through a pulsating wave pattern that creates rhythm and enhances visual movement; and dynamism - the tube is superimposed with aluminium fins of varying lengths, reducing and increasing in a cyclic fashion, causing the wave formation.
As a concept, the bridge is rooted in modernity - a contemporary response to the aspirations of a rapidly modernizing metropolis. Therefore, the firm made a conscious decision to break away from classicism, bringing technology into play, and showcasing art through a long-winding monument of transport.