Dulal Mukherjee is a child of nature, growing up as he did amidst trees and rural settlements of Bengal, touched by the sun and the wind. This experience has engraved in his mind a respect for nature and informs his architectural principles. He creates built-forms in harmony with its natural surroundings. Post a lectureship at his alma mater and a short collaboration with a self-taught interior designer, Mukherjee established his independent practice — the multi-disciplinary Dulal Mukherjee and Associates, in 1969. “The overriding philosophy of the company can be summed up succinctly in the phrase ‘form follows function’,” says the alumnus of Bengal Engineering College, where he obtained both, his graduate (architecture) and post-graduate (master in town and regional planning) degrees. “The recurrent use of strong geometric forms in their purest sense is also predominant. Co-defining and putting flesh on the bones of these principles is an inherent passion for the magnanimity of nature, something I have imbibed from my childhood.”
Nature is a recurring theme in Mukherjee’s work. “I make a conscious effort of maintaining the natural assets of the site and surroundings by steering my design to accommodate the natural existing vegetation, so that the building mass seems (like an) extension of the surroundings,” says the architect, who strongly feels that a built-form is only complete with its surroundings. Notable examples of the symbiotic relationship between the manmade and the natural are Mukherjee’s projects in Santiniketan, viz. the Patha Bhavan Girls’ Hostel and Kala Bhavan; both buildings have been oriented to retain existing trees.
One of the dream projects of this prolific architect is the development and upgradation of the city of Kolkata, including the renewal of major public spaces such as the proposal for the redevelopment of Curzon Park, a major and complicated intersection in the heart of the CBD area of Dalhousie. “The realisation of my unfulfilled dreams is one of the guiding forces that drives me forward since I never give up hope,” he signs off.

Looking Back

Mukerjee’s first completed project, the Birla Temple at Barasat, in West Bengal, posed a number of challenges. The architect’s proposal was a judicious blend of modern form with traditional motifs in bass relief to create the mood of a holy ambience. The project taught him how to balance expectations and reality.

Looking forward

The upcoming projects Mukherjee is most looking forward to are the Spiritual Centre and the completion of the Assam Legislative State Assembly, both in Guwahati. The design scheme will take into account surrounding “marvellous features”, such as the Brahmaputra river in the first project, to create a relevant built form.

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