Samudra: A Place to Congregate

Samudra in Calicut, Kerala is another architectural intervention by IIA Calicut Chapter brought to fruition by Twoi Architects to usher in positive changes in communities through design. This gathering space for the fishermen community is intended for get-togethers and in time of disasters, they would double up as shelters.

Calicut is on a design revival spree. Buildings and public spaces that were earlier forgotten are being integrated architecturally into the urban fabric of the city weaving in community participation which hopefully would lead to respect for spaces that bring us together acknowledging the power of design in elevating human behaviour.

Samudra is another such space designed for the betterment of people belonging to the coastal community inhabiting the Bhatt Road beach, Calicut. Designed as a single-floored structure to embrace the land sitting on the edge of sea and land, Samudra is a place of solace, of coming together and of bonding of human minds.

“As a successful humanitarian architecture project, this building is intended to become a catalyst to achieve positive changes in the community. The idea is to provide them with a new community space, more like a gathering space. A space to do things together and pursue shared interests and activities. The space is rented out to the community members at a minimal rate and to the public at a common rate. Bringing this into the design process and functioning of the space creates a sense of pride, enthusiasm and ownership among the community,” explains Noufal C Hashim, the lead architect and creator behind TWO i Architects, an architectural practice in Calicut, that stresses on “well-designed spaces add a great amount of spirit and improve the value and quality of life.”

Noufal explains the brief behind this design intervention: “The story begins from the Shanthi Nagar colony, a coastal setting near Bhatt Road beach. A multipurpose disaster shelter has been identified as high priority intervention for this locale where it experienced an absence of room to conduct get-togethers and other ceremonies. The idea was to create a new space for the community since the original public facilities in the locality could not meet the needs of these people. More than 500 fisherman families live in close proximity of one cent to one and half-cent plots in an undesirable everyday environment. They had to adapt within the spaces of two or three houses to make their gatherings happen.”

Here Noufal starts planning the structure and its location within the space provided: “The location and setting contributed to the programme and the dream space of every single person in the fishermen community residing nearby was built along with the lay of the land, capturing the vistas of the surrounding seaside. The project holds an auditorium space and allied facilities to conduct gatherings during normal times of the year, but during pandemics and natural disasters, these structures would double up as shelters, providing wider benefits to the community,” he says.

The design takes an L-shaped volume for the two main functions of the building, the main hall for the congregation and the other that supports the amenities that support this purpose.

“In a 1200 m2 plan, the programme is resolved in a single floor, whose L-shaped volume generates two masses, the one parallel to the beach is the main hall and later is designed for other services,” explains Noufal, “Upon entering, visitors walk through a long corridor with bamboo roofing where the hollow nature of bamboo is cleverly utilised to hang beautiful lamps and grow creepers. The outdoor stage overlooking the sea is used as a distribution square and could possibly be used to conduct outdoor activities. Observed from a distance, its body well integrates the indoor and outdoor sections of the Community Hall into a grey structure that sits on the edge of the beach view. “

This is one space where the construction or the physical structure does not bind the purpose of the structure, open spaces are left as it is to make sure people gather here for activities that involve the outdoors.

“The absence of a compound wall to the beach and the openness to the context is well adjusted considering the surrounding users to set up multiple recreational and entertainment venues such as cultural display, women empowerment initiatives like kudumbhasree meeting, community development programmes like fishnet weaving space or any other social events to make the venues safe and comfortable. Also, the open space overlooking the sea is intended to use as a parking lot while the auditorium is being occupied for any functions and the rest of the time, left free and accessible to the general public to engage in many activities like walking, jogging, and the children’s play area,” says Noufal.

Design Specification:

Gross Built Area (m2/ ft2): 1215.4 m2

Project location: Bhatt road beach, Kozhikode, Kerala, India

Program: Multipurpose gathering space for the fishermen community

Architects: Twoi Architects, Calicut

All Images Courtesy The Architects, Twoi Architects