Text and Photographs: Architecture Brio
Once home of sprawling bungalows for Kolkata’s nouveau riche, the area between Park Street and the esplanade has a diverse mix of seventies office towers and fragments of nineteenth century Kolkata.
While the city densifies. Kolkata’s heritage fades away. Many bungalows fall in disrepair and ultimately give way for commercial highrises. It is merely due to the passion of individuals and a combination of long term business sense and interest in the conservation of the history of the city that certain heritage structures are preserved. The bungalow of the Mookherjee’s is such an example. Built by Sir Rajen Mookherjee, who with his construction company built the famous Hooghly Bridge and the Victoria Memorial in a typical British Colonial style is slowly crumbling down. To compensate for the costs involved in preserving and maintaining this historical landmark, a residential apartment tower is proposed on the empty plot next to the structure. The narrow footprint that is left after leaving the required setbacks, results in an elegant and slender volume for the apartment tower. This verticality is even more emphasized by breaking up the volume in three parts. The deep vertical incisions in the façade allow light and ventilation to pass through the center of the floor plans.
While the parking is placed in a seven floor volume on top of the double height lobby floor, 17 residential floors contain a total of 4 duplexes and 26 apartments.
While the availability of high end apartments is limited to standard 3 to 4 bedroom apartments which don’t allow modifications in the layout, the wide diversity of family types and sizes in India would suggest a different requirement. Therefore the structural system is designed such that the supporting columns and walls are only taken on the exterior and the internal walls are flexible. This allows for various permutations and modifications to happen over time and makes the structure more durable.
This flexibility is expressed in the façade. Within the continuous column beam framework the deep recessed windows which form semi verandah’s are positioned differently on every floor, generating an abstract irregular pattern on the elevation.
While the purist exposed column beam structure responds to the rationality of the surrounding tropical modernist towers, the variety in the verandah and glass elements mark a vibrant city on the move.
Topped by a common pool, fitness centre and lounge on the roof, the terrace becomes a place to relax and enjoy the historical panorama of the city of Kolkata.
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