by Sunena V MajuFeb 02, 2023
Gallery House, designed by Abin Design Studio (ADS), is a two-tiered community centre clad in patterned, rust red terracotta blocks inset with ceramic work. Located in Bansberia, a city in West Bengal, India, (about 45 km from Kolkata), the multifunctional structure references one of the vernacular, terracotta dressed Hindu temples here. “Exposed brick masonry walls inlaid with ceramic blocks define the building’s character as a contemporary expression of the inspiration,” shares Abin Chaudhuri, founder and principal designer, ADS.
Ananta Basudeva is a 200-year-old temple with burnt brickwork, a well-known heritage structure of Bansberia. “An absolutely brilliant piece of architecture reporting mythological stories, we have been fascinated with this temple since childhood. The façade is a tribute to that treasure and legacy,” says Chaudhuri.
The client is someone who had commissioned ADS before to build their residence, the Wall House, and also obtained a small piece of land across its location, to build a car parking with staff quarters above. “Given its simple programme, we convinced the client to use this opportunity to do a lot more, and think of how it could give back to the community,” relays the design team at Abin Design Studio.
With a site area of 330 sqm, the community centre is designed to serve the local community in the peri-urban locale of Bansberia and employs locally sourced materials in its design. Terracotta bricks were obtained from a riverside brick factory nearby, while rejected ceramic blocks were procured with the help of Partha Dasgupta, a ceramist. In conjunction, these wrap the Gallery House’s concrete skeleton, aided by the finesse and skills of the local building masons.
On seeing how well the design was progressing, the client decided to forgo his initial request and ascertained the ground floor to be used as a community hall open to the street, while the upper floor hosts a multipurpose room. Encompassing a sitting area, washroom, kitchen and a pantry, the multifunction room caters to the locality by becoming a space to host tuition classes and yoga lessons. During the night, the same space repurposes itself into a dormitory for resident staff.
While red masonry adorns the concrete framed insides at the lower level, the one above has Le Corbusier's aesthetics, replete with primary red and egg yolk yellow doors, and a blue framed window that curls in tandem with the rounded, concrete bench that hugs the off-white, curved wall.
The open white steps and foyer of the mixed-use structure perform as a street side gallery for the locals to sit and gather at, to view the procession of the annual festivities held on the winding neighbourhood lanes. “Encouraged to maximise the public utility of this building, its design was conceived to extend into the street, both visually and physically. Through judicious planning and play of voids in volume, the integral space of the building was shared with the neighbourhood people as a humane gesture of giving back to the local community, without disrupting the privacy and security of inner functions,” the studio informs.
“The client enjoys a sense of pride and joy of ownership seeing the space put to good use,” mentions Chaudhuri, who is also a resident of the area.
Name: Gallery House
Location: Bansberia, West Bengal, India
Area: 380 sqm
Year of completion: 2020
Architect: Abin Design Studio
Principal Designer: Abin Chaudhuri
Design Team: Sohomdeep Sinha Roy, Qurratul Ain Maryam
Structure: Soma Kazi
Project Coordination: Debjit Samanta, Debkishor Das, Dipankar Mondal
Collaborator: Partha Dasgupta (ceramic artist)