The Telegraph
Friday , April 21 , 2017
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Calcutta's newest seat of culture

A patch of land in Alipore that used to be a cow shelter has metamorphosed into a multi-facility cultural complex called Uttirna, next to the Women’s Correctional Home. The two-acre compound has an open-air theatre and a six-storey building that houses several facilities — 10,000 sq ft of office space, guest rooms, dormitories, a media centre and even a rooftop café. One of the floors has a 12,000sq ft banquet hall. Ramps have been built for people needing mobility assistance to reach any of the floors without much difficulty. The ramps lead to the second floor of the building, from where elevators are available. A senior engineer in the PWD, which built the amphitheatre and the six-storey structure, said it had not been decided yet how the open-air theatre, café and banquet facilities would be run. “These decisions will be taken later,” he said.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee is scheduled to inaugurate Uttirna on Friday evening, when she visits Alipore for a Civil Services Day programme. Metro provides a sneak peek into Calcutta’s newest cultural complex on the eve of its opening.

The open-air theatre has 2,000 seats and a dais that measures 8x25 metres at its narrowest point. Along its two wings there are green rooms, apart from an elevator that artistes can use to move their props to the storage facility in the 20,000sq ft basement. Performers can also wait in the basement and come up to the dais using the elevator when their turn comes.

The terrace with inverted umbrella canopies and seating arrangements to go with the proposed cafe and restaurant. The view from the terrace alone is worth a visit to the cultural complex.

The façade is a mix of glass and perforated cladding, apart from the usual brick and mortar. “The perforated claddings have dual use. They hide utility lines and also add an aesthetic touch to the building,” said Saumya Chakrabarti, an architect with Consulting Architects and Engineers, the company that designed the amphitheatre and the building. The perforations were made by passing laser beams through aluminium sheets. The design created thus is meant to represent an alpana.

Escalators to and from the basement of the building.

Pictures by Pradip Sanyal

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