Dutch help in shaping urban space

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By SUBHRO SAHA
  • Published 23.11.09
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Holland has extended a helping hand to create “more tangible, humane and sustainable” architecture in Calcutta and encourage a more inclusive approach towards urban design of its public spaces.

“We should be able to draw from the vast pool of Dutch expertise and best practices to augment our indigenous resources, as our embassy has evinced keen interest to partner Calcutta in key future urban design and planning projects,” said Namit Shah, the honorary consul of the Netherlands in Calcutta.

Shah was present at the inauguration of “Building India”, an exhibition supported by the Netherlands embassy, which after successful showings at the Amsterdam India Festival last year and in select Indian cities, sought “to expose Calcutta to the future map of Indian cities” following the Dutch approach to urban planning and architecture.

The exhibition (mounted in the Dr HL Roy Building, Jadavpur University) has been conceptualised by think-tank body Arcam (Amsterdam Centre for Architecture). “Our ambassador (Bob Hiensch) has committed one million euros for research on making the Calcutta-Farakka water channel more navigable,” the honorary consul added.

Dutch expertise can help provide an integrated approach to the management of our waterways and water bodies, so critical for shaping urban development in our new growth areas, felt Calcutta-based architect Ayan Sen, among the five “critically involved”, young Indian architects picked by Arcam to paint a picture of the city in which they live and work.

On view are photographs and drawings of key projects, which have had “a major impact” on the urban development of the cities or are representative of the way in which the future of these cities is being worked on.

Some of the projects from Calcutta showcased in the photo-exhibition are City Centre Salt Lake, Udayan, The Condoville on the EM Bypass, ITC Sonar, Swabhumi, Aqua Ville on Diamond Harbour Road, the Calcutta Riverside project in Batanagar and the Infinity Building in Sector V.

“This is also a great opportunity for our students to come in contact with some of the defining designs from across contemporary India. We are trying to organise student and project-exchange programmes with institutes like SPA (School of Planning and Architecture) Delhi and CEPT (Centre for Environmental Planning & Technology University) Ahmedabad,” said Subhrajit Das, head, department of architecture, JU.

The design approach followed by the Dutch team involves research into the “complex layers of history and culture, specifics of environment, biodiversity, building materials and craftsmanship”, said architect Himanshu Lal of Arch I.