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On cloud nine above the wetlands
The sculptured “Deya” or cloud cradled between the twin towers of Atmosphere that will come up off Science City. (Above) An artist’s impression of the tubular community centre “Deya” with its four levels, the topmost being the party deck followed by a jogging track and a swimming pool

In a city swamped by ugly concrete-and-glass boxes, two architectural projects could reverse the trend of setting up monstrosities anywhere and everywhere.

The first of this is the Kolkata Museum of Modern Art designed by the Basel-based firm Herzog & de Meuron coming up in Rajarhat.

The second is a “luxury residential condominium project” for 80 families, christened Atmosphere. It boasts twin towers, — at 125m, these are taller than the South City condos — with gardens on each duplex unit.

What distinguishes it from other “floating gardens in the sky” is a 100m-long “cloud” hanging in between the towers like a hammock at a height of 500ft. This “amorphous” shape-shifting, tubular piece of floating sculpture is named “Deya”, meaning cloud, derived from Rabindranath Tagore’s verse.

If everything goes according to the plan announced by Rahul Saraf, the managing director of Forum Group, at a city hotel on Tuesday afternoon, the ambitious and technically-challenging project will come up on 3 acres adjoining Science City.

The Forum Group will break ground between March 17 and 15, and the Rs 550-crore project, including cost of land, will take “a maximum of 30 months” to come up. The estimated cost of Deya alone is Rs 100 crore.

The “iconic” building will dominate the EM Bypass and can be viewed from many angles. A flyover is coming up along this stretch. Saraf claimed this was perhaps the first such structure being erected anywhere, and initially he was wary of the feasibility of setting it up in Calcutta, not known for its infrastructural excellence.

The green sculpture, Deya, is designed by the Singapore-based Arc Studio, headed by the young couple Khoo Peng Beng and Belinda Huang. With four levels, the highest being the party deck, it will serve as a community space, and both its interior and “outer” skin will be put to use. It will command a 360-degree view of the wetlands stretching before it and accommodate a gym, a jogging track and a swimming pool.

The impact of earthquakes and wind at that height has been tested, and a mock-up is being done in Singapore, where for six months the structure will weather the elements.

Deya will have a transparent, porous skin and gusty winds that will slam it will be “ionised” into a cool breeze that will waft into the interiors.

The structural design is by Web Structures with Hossein Rezai-Jorabi as its director and wind tunnel investigations by Tony Rofail of Australia-based Windtech Consultants. The contractor is Mero Construction, which has a subsidiary in Chennai.

Asked why most of the consultants were based in Singapore, Saraf admitted that even in this day and time face-to-face interaction facilitated design coordination.

The lighting is being conceived by the Japan-based Kaoru Mende, and at night Deya will be lit up by myriad LED lamps.

The “Cloud” will have a silver lining — 15,000 kinetic discs will shimmer on its surface.

The construction process will be documented by a Singaporean author who discovered the word “deya” by trawling the Net.

Poetry notwithstanding, will such exorbitantly-priced flats find many takers in a stagnating city like Calcutta? Saraf was confident of their saleability and wanted all investors out.

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