Tollygunge Club, Kolkata

An old grandfathers clock, a mahogany chest, a green crystal lamp, a butler who has served three generations…….impeccable hospitality along with warmth of a society and culture in which we have been brought up.

The Tollygunge club is not a hotel; it is as traditional as it is modern, as laid back as energetic. Begin the day with a game of Golf, followed by a grueling frenzy at workplace and destress in the evening over a glass of chilled beer with friends and colleagues.

The age-old trees, the mildly curious foxes, the porches filtering soft winter sun is what makes this club. It is not about pseudo Victorian furniture but neo cultural impact, where guests taste aromas of home cooked Bhetki  Paturi or Veg augratin  served with similar élan, meet  family akin attendants, feel perhaps they have stepped into the luxurious yet nostalgic cocoon of one’s great grandfathers home.

Our Presentation for conserving the Heritage Building is based on the idea that this could come about through looking more consciously at our own time-honored ways of building. A renewal based on understanding the respect these systems had for the environment in which they operated thus coming to terms with and probably working to avert the disaster that the earth is facing through our own actions.

Each way of building derives from and acknowledges its physical environment when creating the spaces needed by the structure and economy of its society. Somewhere in the transformation of our societies to the “modern” and the proliferation of trade there seems to have been a stage where local techniques are not seen as progressive, and various manner of atrocity was accepted as progressive.

It is indeed no point in shutting all the windows and then inventing a sophisticated technique to cool a building, which in the long run is also a drain on the environment to solve the problem of comfort, when all one needs to really do is to open the window wide to let a flow of air in, but invent a filter to keep undesirable particles it may be carrying to be stopped. To be inspired by the vernacular and the regional meant that this came naturally to the buildings.

This idea of being able to renew and reuse is an important part of sustainability. The materials and the way in which they are used in vernacular and traditional architecture allowed for these issues to be addressed.

Spaces however are about people. Architecture can only aspire to inspire life in the spaces that are created. An architecture that attempts to be self-conscious can often intimidate.

Architecture after all is something that does survive long after a stock market crash!

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