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Taking off from the design of Temple Pavilion of 2014, Abin Design Studio create a temporary installation called the ‘Pavillion of Canopies’, for a festival for a tribal community, in Bansberia: a town in the Hooghly district of West Bengal. The architects take inspiration from the forest for the design and juxtapose it with the simplicity of the tribal life and memories of the Bengali countryside, to create a surreal experience.
A serene field, interjected with sheets of white fabric, suspended from tall bamboo shoots. The fabric leans down teasing the ground scattered with fireflies, unfurling with the wind, intermittently giving visual flashes of birds flying and streaks of light flowing through them. It seems like a scene out of an overwhelmed imagery, the perfect theatrical backdrop to a mythological story. It all makes perfect sense once you know that the stage is set for a festival for a tribal community that reside in the lush countryside, west of Kolkata.
Abin Design Studio took off from its widely renowned 2014 design of Temple Pavilion built in Hooghly, West Bengal to create another spectacle, that above providing for a pavilion to house the deity, invokes tranquillity and lucidity. The design, an earnest conceptual confluence of celebration of the tribal life, rituals and the symbiotic relationship the tribe has with the forest, makes an honest effort to inculcate awareness about the enrichment and conservation of forestlands and the communities residing within them. The architect says, “The design experience was to abstract the journey through a lush forest of canopies and arrive at the sight of glorious divinity. This was similar to the ancient Indian ritual of undertaking a pilgrimage through the forest to seek divine enlightenment. Since the site is also surrounded by dense greenery the design seeks to formally reflect this contextual characteristic.”
A structural grid of 20-feet-high composite bamboos was laid on a mandala-like plan of 19 overlapping discs, each disc measuring 10 feet in diameter; within a bigger circular peripheral diameter of 60 feet. The canopies were created by introducing 38 planes of undulating fabric to the symmetrical rhythm of the structure. Each fabric plane, with varied width and height, resulted in a parametric canopy that surged like the tangled vegetation of a forest.
Taking references from their own memories the designers recollect witnessing shooting stars through the canopy of trees as one of the many cherished memories of growing up in the Bengali countryside. By placing LED drop lights within the spaces of the fabric panels, they rekindle and share this experience. To evoke the vitality of the forests, the designers sourced handcrafted birds from the local artisans that were perched upon the fabric canopies. This endeavour showcased local art and gave a sense of inclusiveness to the artisans. It also completely aligned with the designers' ideology of conscious usage of sustainable materials such as fabric and bamboo which could be re-used for community events in future.
As the designers finally summarise, “This is an exercise in abstracting tradition, the plan was a contemporary update of the classical temple pavilion. The idea was to circumnavigate through the forest of canopies and arrive at the shrine that housed the deity. The cascading drapes of the fabric planes were lifted in places to create almost a forest pathway for the devotees to trace their steps to the shrine. The Indian temple is a classical example of designing a devotional community space. The conceptualization of the Pavilion of Canopies is in its essence, a contemporary attempt at re-imagining this ancient tradition.”
Location: Bansberia, West Bengal, India
Area: 1500 sqm
Completion: October, 2015
Client: Kishor Sangha Community
Architect: Abin Design Studio
Team: Abin Chaudhuri, Sayantan Chakraborty, Debkishor Das
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