Architecture and Design firm Abin Design Studio took the opportunity of transforming a simple client brief into an iconic structure. Reflecting Bengal’s beauty – both material and social – the Gallery House reinstates the role of the Architect in giving back to the community.
Gallery House / Abin Design Studio
- Location: Bansberia, WB, India
- Architects: Abin Design Studio
- Area: 380 m2
- Status: Completed
- Year: 2020
Situated in the small town of Bansberia, by the River Hooghly, the Gallery House by Abin Design Studio stands as a symbol of Bengal’s vernacular architecture. Architect Abin Chaudhuri, being native to the beauty of Bengal and its centuries-old architectural expressions in terracotta, breathed life into an otherwise plain client brief as an opportunity to give back to the community.
The client for whom Abin Design Studio had completed the grand Wall House subsequently procured a piece of land across the street, planning to use it as a parking space for his personal vehicles. ADS was approached again, this time for setting up a simple garage with a few rooms for staff and servants above.
Architect Abin Chaudhuri seized this as an opportunity for doing much more, for giving back to the community and the local culture of “Adda”. He presented a modified brief to the client, suggesting a garage on the ground level with a multi-purpose activity space on the top, that would be open to the locals for gathering, celebrating and more.
Inspired by the new dimensions to a basic brief like this, the client decided to forego his initial requirements. Instead, he embraced the idea of maximising the public utility of the design. Eventually, the Gallery House was re-purposed into a community hall on the ground level, with multi-purpose rooms, a sitting area and a pantry on the top.
Defining the Building’s Character: Design Concept
Given the newfound purpose of the building, its design was conceived to extend out onto the street, both visually and physically. The architect took into account the local context, where the narrow, winding lanes of Bansberia witness cultural festivities and processions every now and then.
As if to recreate this milieu, the building steps down towards the adjacent street, creating an interesting outward pocket for onlookers to sit and enjoy street-side events. With the help of voids in the main building volume, the integral space of the building opens to the neighbourhood. This expression of connectivity through architecture embraces the idea of tying the community together, without disrupting internal functions, privacy and security.
Drawing from the Context: Materials and Expression
The Gallery House takes inspiration from the vernacular terracotta temples of Bengal when it comes to material and expression. Architect Abin Chaudhuri brought to life a burnished blend of legacy and contemporariness with the exposed brick masonry of the Gallery House, inlaid with ceramic bricks.
Ceramic blocks rejected from standard industrial produce were collected. These were then combined with terracotta blocks procured from a nearby riverside brick field. With the help of ceramic artist Partha Dasgupta and skilled local masters, industrial waste was repurposed and collated into a brilliant work of art.
Gallery House: One for the Community
The Gallery House by Abin Design Studio validates the powerful impact that Architects and Designers can have on society in general; they play a significant role they play in community-building. What started as a simple brief – garage and staff dorms – today houses multi-purpose community areas for the vibrant local context. The same rooms that are used to conduct tuition classes and yoga sessions by the day, act as dormitories for resident staff at night. What’s more, the client relishes in a feeling of pride and joy of ownership on seeing how his space adds life and vigour to his neighbourhood.
- 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)
- Photography: Edmund Sumner