Abin Design Studio Churns Clay into Community Center in West Bengal

Collaborating with ceramic designer Partha Dasgupta, Abin Design Studio has created a small yet multifunctional community centre in the city of Bansberia, West Bengal having an imposing earthly facade finished with locally produced Terracotta tiles. 

The two-storey centre is designed with the purpose of providing a variety of flexible spaces for the local community in Bansberia along with a dormitory for staff.

Kolkata-based Abin Design architecture studio, established by founder Abin Chaudhuri in 2005 has previously also designed a  concrete Hindu temple that was showcased in a film and latticed concrete and glass temple.

The idea of building a community centre was suggested by the Chaudhuri who hails from  Bansberia himself and hence was aware of the needs of locals. Initially, the owner wanted to build a garage and dormitory for workers but later he consented to give the majority of the building over to community functions.

An open stair leads to the first-floor community room and the building’s roof terraces. The first floor also contains the staff dormitories, toilets and bathroom, and a small kitchen. Below, the majority of the building’s ground floor is occupied by a large community hall in a space that is accessed from the street and was originally designed as a garage.

The concrete-framed building is clad with terracotta bricks that were produced locally. Abin Design Studio collaborated with ceramic designer Partha Dasgupta to create the rustic facade finishes that are inspired by a local terracotta temple. 

The 200-year-old terracotta temple of Ananta Basudeva is one of the stunning terracotta architecture in the town of West Bengal. 

According to Chaudhuri, “It is an absolutely brilliant piece of burnt-brick work including mythological stories that we have been fascinated with since childhood. The facade manifests a timeless legacy and culture of Bengal.”

With terracotta one certainly has building which is not harmful to the environment in any way and if one compares terracotta to other cladding products, the big advantage of using terracotta is that it has a very long life cycle. A terracotta cladding may remain intact for more than 100 years without much maintenance, especially when using the rainscreen principle.

Photographs by Edmund Sumner

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