Deepak Panda does not simply design buildings. Aesthetics reign supreme in his work. Be it the particular type of stone used for individual projects or the nuances that create harmony with the environment—elements define his style.
In the early 2000, when the state-run Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Idco) asked Architect Studio (where Panda is a partner) to design Bhubaneswar’s Ekamra Haat, the project was just a string of buildings. A crafts village, Ekamra Haat was meant to give marketing infrastructure to rural as well as urban artisans and weavers. The first two things that Panda proposed were an open-air auditorium and a water body for rainwater harvesting. Soon terracotta crafts came into picture, followed by murals on every vacant wall space and landscaping around the five-acre place. Twelve years after it was thrown open, Ekamra Haat is a part of Temple Town Bhubaneswar’s very core.
Over the years, Panda’s designs, which blend the traditional with modern functions, have found a wide range of clientele. His vast repertoire includes Vrindavan Gurukul that he conceptualised for flute maestro Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia to designing a rehabilitation colony for PSUs such as Odisha Power Generation Corporation.
An architecture graduate from Odisha Government’s College of Engineering and Technology, Panda belongs to a business family from Berhampur. Architecture happened by chance but soon he realised he had found his calling.
Ekamra Haat was a big leap and opened new vistas for Panda. The Urban Haats at Konark and Puri, the two of the most important cultural centres of the state, were also designed by Panda and his team. “The challenge for the Urban Haat at Konark was to create a podium where the visitors could step into and watch the silhouette of the Sun Temple. The whole 4.5 acre area was created with exposed bricks, laterite stones and terracotta crafts on which local artisans worked,” he shares.
The Urban Haat at Puri followed the traditional style of the Pilgirm Town with the perimeter wall following the style of Lord Jagannath Temple’s compound wall.” The rows of coconut and palm trees pre-existent at the spot were retained and made part of the design.
The real challenge, however, was yet to come. Four years back, India’s flute maestro Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia wanted to set up his second music school in Bhubaneswar. He wanted to build an ashram where the Guru-Shishya tradition would be followed.
“The theme was music and it had to have all the elements of a gurukul, the cardinal elements intact. Panditji already had a Vrindaban Gurukul in Mumbai and we had to ensure that the standard remained uncompromised,” says Panda.
Laterite stones were handpicked from Chandpur, a small town of Khurda, based on their texture and the school’s designed followed the Vaastu philosophy. A huge open air auditorium was built using these stones. The school is designed in such a way that disciples can practise “riyaaz” anywhere. A huge practice hall of 900 sq ft was designed in such a manner that it did not require a single air-conditioner. To add to the traditionality, Kadamba trees were planted across the campus.
Panda is now designing the Handicrafts and Handlooms Museum on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar. The 14-acre museum will have separate handicraft and handloom blocks where visitors can walk in and see for themselves the artists at work.
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