The noise of construction crews are a familiar soundtrack of daily life in Kolkata.
In this constantly changing city, quiet neighbourhoods give way to grey towers, and colonial era heritage buildings are eaten up by supermarkets. In the blink of an eye, pieces of a historic landscape disappear, paved over for new developments.
Calcutta Houses, a photography project on Instagram started by three friends—Manish Golder, Sidhartha Hajra, and Sayan Dutta —aims to archive the city’s remaining colonial structures and heritage homes before they are demolished by the Municipal Corporation of Kolkata.
So far, the project which was inspired by the Calcutta Architectural Legacies, an initiative started by author Amit Chaudhuri and Kolkata’s architects and conservationists, has published more than 150 posts.
Each – through photography and illustration – documents green-shuttered windows and red oxide walls, elegant balconies and ornamental pillars; a unique and rich heritage of architectural styles from different places and times that give Kolkata its old-world charm.
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While addressing why preserving these buildings have become the core of a couple of projects, Hajra in an interview with Scroll states, “Sometimes you find a nameplate suggesting former occupants but the reason why they’re mostly left unoccupied is because of family disputes over inheritance or migration. In addition to this, real estate developers aren’t concerned with the maintenance and conservation of these buildings.” He calls for government led intervention and civil society’s participation in addressing this issue.
While not as satisfying as seeing the real buildings, Calcutta Houses nevertheless captures in vivid clarity and colours, Kolkata’s architectural beauty as well as the essence of an era long past. We hope that this elegant project succeeds in convincing the city of the importance of preserving the same. Click here to visit the Instagram page.
Featured image credit: Calcutta Architectural Legacies
Written by Shalini Srinivasan