On the riverfront - With an IT park, mall and housing by lakes, Calcutta Riverside - the township coming up in Batanagar - is ready to make an urban statement

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By SUBHRO SAHA
  • Published 20.10.06
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The pieces of the jigsaw that will create Calcutta Riverside, the Rs 2,000-crore, 256.94-acre Batanagar makeover project, are now falling in place and the broad contours of the township after redevelopment are emerging.

“In Batanagar, we are looking at making an urban statement, and not just doing business. So we are building on roughly 40 per cent of what can potentially be built on the site,” Sumit Dabriwal, managing director, Riverbank Holdings Pvt Ltd, said.

The company, a 50:50 joint venture between Bata India Ltd and Calcutta Metropolitan Group Ltd, has conceptualised and is implementing Calcutta Riverside, the design solution and masterplan for which have emerged after brainstorming sessions with a group of architects and planners.

The Esplanade, the mall designed by Kiran Kapadia with 440,000-sq ft leasable space, will have a hypermarket anchor across two levels — for which talks with Reliance are at an advanced stage — vanilla retail, food outlets, a family entertainment centre and a multiplex.

It sits next to a six-acre open space, a plaza, which will be intensively landscaped. The plaza will have contextual retail (shops that don’t sell branded items). It will provide kiosk space for traditional retail to “coexist with and benefit from the strong organised branded retail” in the mall.

On the other side of the plaza is an IT park, Sector V, which offers about 1.5 million sq ft of leasable space with two levels of car park. Declared a special economic zone, the IT hub designed by Pramod Balakrishnan is a blend of “cutting-edge design and traditional tropical housing concepts”. Extensive terraces overlook the lush golf greens and every quadrant on every floor will have at least one verandah that will be landscaped.

“There was a sense that the land had a community at peace with itself, a tranquil community. The idea is to accentuate, embellish and celebrate this sense, while making a provision for all the new development,” said landscape architect Aniket Bhagwat. He has also landscaped the riverfront promenade, called The Strand.

There are 3,125 residential units in four formats in the development “strongly inspired by Calcutta”. The riverside residences are called Princep. They are tall buildings, 22 through 30 floors. “The riverside housing strives towards creating a striking and contemporary skyline along the riverfront, making the site a visual destination,” said Rajeev Kathpalia, architect, riverside housing.

The housing by the lakes is called Lake Town. “We will expand the breathtaking waterbodies that exist on site and put housing all around them. Even the Lake Town residences get good visual orientation,” Dabriwal added.

Two formats will be in place for the housing next to the golf course. The condominiums that offer unhindered views of the 9-hole golf course are called Golf Greens. The villas, perched on the edge of the course, are called the Mandeville.

“The housing has been designed to give the residents sophisticated urban dwellings in the midst of natural and designed landscapes,” said Bimal Patel, architect of the golf housing.

Veteran city-based architect Dulal Mukherjee, designing housing for existing Bata employees and a free-sale housing with the SEZ-IT zone, says: “The basic aim of the design process is to give Bata employees a better living environment and making them an integral part of Calcutta Riverside.”

A common architectural vocabulary has been attempted right through the development. The architects got together and decided on the material palette they would follow on the exterior of the buildings. The palette that has been broadly agreed on is that on the street level, there will be stone cladding.

The building faces will be a mix of three elements — exposed brick, screens reminiscent of old Calcutta louvre windows, jharokhas and jalis articulated by modern materials and textured paint finish.

Riverbank Holdings is also looking at animating river transportation with themed ferries so that it becomes “a face for the development as opposed to just a backyard or a private corner”. For hospital and school formats, talks are on with international groups for transaction partnerships.

“We are looking at the possibility of creating a knowledge village, which will be a first in the country. The concept is a large shared campus, with each part dedicated to one university, so you get several universities coming together and offering specialised courses,” Dabriwal said.

On the Budge Budge Trunk Road, the company is building a large transport hub, The Terminus, which will be a public amenity. Co-ordinating internal transportation, connecting to the nearby Nangi station and achieving outbound connection with all major links in the city are part of the masterplan.