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Arthshila, Shantiniketan

Santiniketan, intimately connected with Rabindranath Tagore, stands as the cradle of the Bengali Renaissance. Arthshila, a remarkable fusion of workshops, exhibition spaces, and indoor/outdoor art galleries, is inspired by this unique environment.

Years ago, a 22-year-old architect, guided by their professor, envisioned a residential building with a sloped concrete roof. Decades later, Takshila Educational Society approached Abin Design Studio to transform a 3BHK residence into a cultural hub. This architect’s dream came true: the firm retained the old residence’s profile and extended it, creating a shading device for an open plaza while enhancing the building’s cultural significance. The extended roof became a defining feature, turning a humble home into a grand pavilion for public gatherings.

On the ground floor, internal rooms became galleries, while the top floor rooms and terraces transformed into a library, gallery, and guest rooms. The project preserved existing full-grown trees, casting long shadows and bringing light through skylights. Terracotta tiles and MS structures define the project, with Pandomo flooring inside and black Kadappa stone cladding outside.

The exterior landscape integrates with the building, serving as a “sculpture court” and multipurpose lawn. It even accommodates a pantry and outdoor seating that can be repurposed for performances or events in the AV room. A subtle transition zone merges indoor and outdoor spaces with playful seating arrangements.

Throughout these design interventions, the goal was to expand the building’s capacity without losing its homey charm. Today, Arthshila is a vibrant hub of cultural activity in Santiniketan, blending seamlessly with the rural landscape while paying homage to its unique architecture. It’s a prime example of true adaptation.

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