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Family’s haunt, spender’s pride

Hang out. Don’t care where. Just hang out. In the shade, around the kund, under a tree, against a wall or on the wide-as-a-street steps... Grab a bite, catch a film, choose a chartbuster, buy your brand…

Welcome to Calcutta’s newest, biggest and most definitive hangout.

City Centre is what it is called, even if it is in the heart of Salt Lake.

City centre it promises to be, for the Calcutta on the move, looking for food or fun, music or masti, casuals or formals, essentials or frills…

The first thing that strikes you about the Charles Correa-signature mixed-use development in Salt Lake’s DC Block — and you can be there from the morning of June 6 — is the sprawl.

Try this for size and variety. The Mall in Block A has shopping on three levels with anchor store, branded products and restaurant, a food court, a banquet hall, an entertainment arena. The Plaza in Blocks B, C, D and E has independent shops and commercial spaces. The Cineplex will have a four-screen multiplex and retail space. The Residency will have 66 designer apartments, club, lawns and gardens. The Fountain Plaza is a kund (central waterbody) surrounded by stepped plaza.

Preity Zinta and Hrithik Roshan

The ceremonial launch on the evening of June 5 marks completion of the basic construction work of the project and the commencement of some shopping activity, including main anchor Shoppers’ Stop. INOX hopes to be projecting on all four screens by the third week of June (starting with Lakshya, starring Preity Zinta and Hrithik Roshan). Other shops and establishments in the seven-day mall will roll out over the next few months.

“City Centre was conceptualised to be a very inclusive product. It should cater to a variety of tastes, income segments, preferences and age groups. We have tried to address this large cross-section we are hoping to serve,” observes Harshavardhan Neotia, director, Bengal Ambuja Metro Development Ltd, the joint-venture company with CMDA that has developed the project.

The multifarious activities at City Centre are generated by a complex system of spaces, culminating in the kund at the centre of the complex
Charles Correa
architect

This thread of inclusiveness runs through the entire property, designed as a comprehensive family destination, with entertainment (INOX and more), shopping (Shoppers’ Stop and the rest) and eating out (KFC and co) as the key drivers.

Both INOX and Shoppers’ Stop promise to be “different” from their Forum twins. If the cineplex will have provision to project one blockbuster on all four screens simultaneously, the shopping anchor, spread over two floors, will have elements from its Malad store in Mumbai, with interiors by Kingsmen of Singapore, explains Sanjay Badhe, director operations, Shoppers’ Stop.

But if you don’t have anything to buy, don’t bother. Large and liberal spaces at the Centre allow you to do your own thing — browse, enjoy, experience. As one walks through any of the multiple flow patterns, the place blends seamlessly with the environment, with no boundary walls along certain stretches.

We have tried to create a harmonious blend of the western-style mall’s chic layout with the Indian bazaar’s sheer vibrant energy
Harsh Neotia
Bengal Ambuja Metro
Development Ltd

“A City Centre must be a very special place, a microcosm of the whole metropolis, catering to multiple land uses and diverse income profiles — a kaleidoscope of contrast and colour and energy,” says Correa.

So, the City Centre architecture attempts to bring a new vocabulary to the Calcutta skyline. The stamp of Correa lies in simple and straight lines on one level and yet dramatic effects created by the use of colours and a sense of light and shade. Together, they conjure up interesting spaces and, therefore, interesting moods.

Traversing the property, up and down the stairs and across bridges connecting different levels and blocks, there is a continuous sense of discovery. The levels are interactive, not hierarchical, and the ever-changing vista adds to the drama.

Yet, the entire texture of the place is understated and the Correa creation doesn’t scream for attention.

“We have tried to address, in a sense, the adda tradition of our city in various locations with various moods and colours as it suits them,” says Neotia.

The City Centre cineplex will be a standalone structure with all auditoriums on the first floor and a large atrium and lobby on the ground floor. The colour scheme will be champagne and blue
Ravi Raman
INOX

So, there is a connection to the roots and traditions of Calcutta, which Correa has tried to capture. Like the north Calcutta alleyways, the stylised waterbody, the blow-ups of Kalighat paintings on the walls and the tramcar selling Calcutta memorabilia. “It has been scripted like a film, dealing with an array of emotions, maybe subconsciously,” explains Neotia.

And it is this quality that Correa is convinced will make City Centre “a magnet”, attracting people to the satellite city from all parts of Calcutta and beyond.

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