West Bengal’s biggest annual festival recently saw the addition of a strikingly contemporary pavilion that is 100 percent recyclable in Kolkata, India. Designed by Abin Chaudhuri of the firm Abin Design Studio, the metal mesh pavilion was one of many temporary pavilions — or pandals — constructed to honor the goddess Durga as part of a five-day Hindu festival called Durga Puja. Unlike the other pandals, which are typically built of natural materials and reference traditional motifs and artworks, Abin Design Studio’s creation is architecturally modern with a dynamic form made from steel wire cubes.
Installed inside an alley surrounded by buildings, Abin Design Studio’s Festival Pavilion stands out from its predecessors for the way it embraces the site. Rather than covering up the buildings, Abin Chaudhuri regarded the structures as a backdrop for his stacked cubes of steel wire mesh. The pavilion, which appears as a heap of cubes threatening to topple at any moment, is not only used to frame the deity, but it has also been manipulated to create an entrance arch and immersive sculptural artwork.
“The installation is based on the idea of ‘Childhood,’” Abin Design Studio explained. “At the entrance of the installation, an abstract flight of birds overhead depicts the freedom of thought and creativity in young children. The wings gradually diminish and the birds tessellate into an array of boxes. Along with the deconstructed arrangement, the boxes put forward a commentary on the scenario of a child’s immense inherent potential getting slowly confined into a metaphorical box. The form of the installation then compels the viewer into a ‘void’, a place to sit and contemplate, in the axial presence of ‘Maa Durga.’”
All parts of the temporary 350-square-meter pavilion are recyclable, from the steel mesh cubes and bamboo framing system to the plywood support system for the platform and stage as well as the old newspaper folded into origami birds. Moreover, the pavilion was also created as a module that could be replicated to activate forgotten urban spaces throughout the city, even in non-festival times.
Photography by Suryan/Dang, Abin Chaudhari, Sohomdeep Sinha Roy and Nancy Mandhan via Abin Design Studio