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In pictures: Students from Techno India University explore old buildings in north Kolkata

My Kolkata was there as Iftekhar Ahsan guided a batch of budding architects on how decrepit architecture in the city could be restored

By Priyam Marik | Published 16.05.22, 02:50 PM
1/9 A group of 30 students from the School of Architecture at Salt Lake’s Techno India University went on a walking tour on May 14, led by Iftekhar Ahsan, founder of Calcutta Walks and general manager of Calcutta Bungalow. The walk, which got underway at noon from Calcutta Bungalow on Fariapukur’s Radha Kanta Jew Street, was intended to give the architects in-the-making an idea of what it takes to restore old spaces and rejuvenate them. In the words of Iftekhar, it was about “creating a balance between the old and the new.”

A group of 30 students from the School of Architecture at Salt Lake’s Techno India University went on a walking tour on May 14, led by Iftekhar Ahsan, founder of Calcutta Walks and general manager of Calcutta Bungalow. The walk, which got underway at noon from Calcutta Bungalow on Fariapukur’s Radha Kanta Jew Street, was intended to give the architects in-the-making an idea of what it takes to restore old spaces and rejuvenate them. In the words of Iftekhar, it was about “creating a balance between the old and the new.”

Photos: Ritagnik Bhattacharya
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2/9 Iftekhar explained how he and his team went about restoring Calcutta Bungalow, a 1920s townhouse, into a heritage bed-and-breakfast lodge that opened for guests in 2018

Iftekhar explained how he and his team went about restoring Calcutta Bungalow, a 1920s townhouse, into a heritage bed-and-breakfast lodge that opened for guests in 2018

3/9 After setting off from Calcutta Bungalow, the first stop for the students was Mitra Bari on Shyampukur Street, near Hatibagan. Built sometime in the late 19th century, the building presently stands partitioned in two, with one of the sections looking at an imminent renovation

After setting off from Calcutta Bungalow, the first stop for the students was Mitra Bari on Shyampukur Street, near Hatibagan. Built sometime in the late 19th century, the building presently stands partitioned in two, with one of the sections looking at an imminent renovation

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4/9 Iftekhar described to the students how he plans to convert Mitra Bari into Kolkata’s version of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a place where “active senior citizens can contribute towards creating a bustling community.”

Iftekhar described to the students how he plans to convert Mitra Bari into Kolkata’s version of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a place where “active senior citizens can contribute towards creating a bustling community.”

5/9 “Mitra Bari is an extremely interesting place, but it’s also a complicated architectural project due to the division of the property. The best thing about it, though, is that its foundations are strong, which means that there is a lot of potential for creativity,” said Shirshendu Paul, one of the many students who observed each and every part of the building minutely

“Mitra Bari is an extremely interesting place, but it’s also a complicated architectural project due to the division of the property. The best thing about it, though, is that its foundations are strong, which means that there is a lot of potential for creativity,” said Shirshendu Paul, one of the many students who observed each and every part of the building minutely

6/9 Students of architecture from Techno India frequently undertake visits to properties that require reconstruction, although for many of them, this was the first time they did anything of the sort in north Kolkata

Students of architecture from Techno India frequently undertake visits to properties that require reconstruction, although for many of them, this was the first time they did anything of the sort in north Kolkata

7/9 One of the oldest buildings in the neigbourhood of Masjid Bari Street, also known as Darjipara, which has some of the narrowest lanes in the vicinity

One of the oldest buildings in the neigbourhood of Masjid Bari Street, also known as Darjipara, which has some of the narrowest lanes in the vicinity

8/9 The third and final building of the day was the Chaitanya Library on Sovabazar’s Abhedananda Road (near Minerva Theatre), which was inaugurated in 1889 by Rabindranath Tagore. The library has a collection of 1500 books, many of which are two centuries old

The third and final building of the day was the Chaitanya Library on Sovabazar’s Abhedananda Road (near Minerva Theatre), which was inaugurated in 1889 by Rabindranath Tagore. The library has a collection of 1500 books, many of which are two centuries old

9/9 With the help of a prompt from Iftekhar, the students came up with several suggestions on how to transform the library, from creating a seminar space to making it conducive for intimate theatre performances to coming up with an art studio that complements the cultural milieu of north Kolkata

With the help of a prompt from Iftekhar, the students came up with several suggestions on how to transform the library, from creating a seminar space to making it conducive for intimate theatre performances to coming up with an art studio that complements the cultural milieu of north Kolkata

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