Architecture can change the world – Kingshuk Datta (KD)

Kingshuk Datta once re-mastered Laurie Baker’s famous quote as: ‘I learn my architecture by watching what nature does; in any case it is always the pragmatic and laterally evolving because nature does it. They don’t even employ builders, or for that matter architects, the living beings do it themselves. Every being builds. The job works. You can see it in the various manifestations of nature – the way a tree fractal structure works with a lot of complexities that arise from simple programming. I’m absolutely certain that Emergent Design is one of the answers.”

kd-profile-2Kingshuk Datta completed his undergraduate studies in architecture in 2008 from Sir J J College of Architecture, Mumbai. After interning with renowned Architect Kamal Malik, he worked for the internationally award-winning young firm of Planet 3 Studios Architecture, both in Mumbai. He then went to Oxford Brookes University to do an M. Arch., Advanced architectural design (AAD), in Oxford with Prof. David Greene of Archigram.

A generous amount of International culture percolated into Kingshuk’s growing world-view. As India was taking on a giant leap of progress, he felt the need to return to India to pursue Architecture as a career. Kingshuk’s pursuit of Architecture has been a bit off the usual track.

Fondly known as KD, his experience ranges from winning commissions for IIT Ropar and Central University-Jammu, a LEED Gold commercial complex in Dhaka and Bhuvaneshwar to Digital Asset Management and  ISO-aligned systems. He has also started Advanced Architecture Groups and Mentoring Programs within offices, in order to nurture design excellence.

In his entrepreneurial pursuits, KD has started multiple collaborative ventures, notable among them being  SHIDA Architecture™, SkillBecause™, PraudyoGEEK™, all under the parent network of CyA-N™ : Collaborative young Architects’ Network. He has been placed with leading international firms of Design and Architecture in various competitions.

Here is a project by KD which although un-built, is worthy of a feature: This is ‘Artulivuori’ or Art Volcano (or Art entered the Park), in which, KD participated in the Guggenheim Helsinki Competition. It is a proposal for Guggenheim Museum, Helsinki, Finland through SHIDA Architecture.

kd-1The Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition was the first open, international architectural competition to be organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. A prominent waterfront site was proposed for the architectural competition. The site is located in the Eteläsatama, or South Harbor, area, an urban space of great national and cultural significance, close to the historic city center and immediately visible to visitors arriving by sea.

It has been envisaged that the Guggenheim Helsinki would organize and present internationally significant exhibitions of artworks from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries while also specializing in Nordic art and architecture.

With this backdrop, SHIDA Architecture conceptualised an architecture that was based upon prehistoric caves, which emerged out of the slowest tectonics between those giants below the ground. They did not intend art to simply be mounted on walls but touched upon, walked over such that, “it grows softly on the cruellest rocks; that slithers on a spiralling slope; that erupts out of an overflow of the strongest emotions contained within”. After all for the team, “Art is no more limited to framed wall mountings and museums are no more just well-lit giant spaces. Art is, among many, a very intimate experience and so should be the space it is contained in. Or out”.kd-2-a

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The intention was to make Artulivuori comforting to be in; while at the same time exciting and soothing to the soul, besides giving it a distinct social identity; that which is not just an app on a phone; but can be experienced over and over again. The spatial configuration ensures the user is engaged deeply over mounds of soft moss to rising mountains of steel, timber and stone, to spiral to the top and ultimately burst forth into eruptions of the new media.

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The architecture intended to withstand earthquakes and not get drenched in flood, while being sensitive to global warming: an architecture that is sourced locally; and authentically conceived & ethically built. Afterall, every new brick laid costs the earth.kd-1-a

What is noteworthy is that although this was not a winning entry, post the Guggenheim Helsinki Competition, KD has been offered international collaboration from a reputed Milanese practice and also invited to the 2016 Venice Biennale of Architecture by GAAF Foundation.

Being a British MENSA-n, Kingshuk’s interests are widespread, ranging from understanding Emergence in Architecture and its analogies in Ancient Indian Architecture, to studying Mythology, with healthy dabbles of Sci-Fi and travelling. (For the unacquainted, MENSA is an International Society, that provides a forum for intellectual exchange among its members. It is the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world. It is a non-profit organization open to people who score at the 98th percentile or higher on a standardised, supervised IQ or other approved intelligence test.)

KD expresses, “As an architect I would hardly alter life; I just set the stage for life to unfold its merciless dance. How I set the stage is a product of my observation of its unpredictably ruthless, psychedelic dance steps… All I need to appreciate is where it will step, 10 moves from now…’” . KD believes Architecture can change the world : One space at a time.