Kolkata takes a step ahead with architecture

future cities asia kolkata spc _00024303
future cities asia kolkata spc _00024303

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How design is injecting new life into Kolkata 03:25

Story highlights

  • Kolkata is turning its Newtown into a smart city
  • Nearly 100 smart cities are being developed in India
  • India brings out its own color through architecture

Kolkata, India (CNN)"Good architecture can transform a life," says Abin Chaudhuri, the architect and founder of Abin Design Studio.

That's the philosophy guiding his latest project, Newtown High School in Kolkata, India. Covered in letters of the alphabet and other academic-related symbols, the building has affectionately been dubbed the "A-B-C-D School".
    Its futuristic appearance is a visualization of the innovation that Chaudhuri hopes will take place every day inside the building.

    Part of the plan

    Sunil Agarwal, founder and director of Newtown High School, says the biggest challenge in India is to ensure that kids enjoy going to school.
    An attractive building is just one part of achieving that goal.
    "We thought that we should have a curriculum in which the learning is hands-on. We'll meet our challenges by improving upon the technology part of it. We are very focused on use of technology in the school. And that we are doing very effectively," he tells CNN.
    The one-year-old school is located not in Central Kolkata, famous for its colonial architecture, but in Newtown -- the smart city recently built just outside of the historic megalopolis.
    "Newtown is not a green-filled city. It is not a 300-year-old city. It is a smart city in the making ... a bit of green, a bit of smartness, a bit of IT," says Debashis Sen, chief secretary of the city's Urban Development Department.

    Future is not a singular point

    There are nearly 100 similar smart cities being developed across India.
    Newtown boasts a 10.5 km wifi zone, smart LED street lamps, and a 480-acre "Eco Park".
    For Chaudhuri, being modern doesn't mean disregarding the past.
    "Newtown cannot be envisaged as a singular point," says Chaudhuri. "It needs to respect the grandfather's legacies, such as Kolkata's legacies, how it has been grown up. You cannot avoid the cultural part of people. You cannot avoid how people [are] living here. And, same time, you need to understand the demand of future."
    Newtown, the school and the city, he says, presents "an enormous opportunity."