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Bihar Museum and its architecture dominate this Chennai exhibition

The illustrious halls of IIT Madras Research Park will see a different kind of event this week — an architectural narrative that weaves aspects of association and governance into the built form. Hosted by the Chennai Architecture Foundation, the display is titled Synergies: Exhibition — The Bihar Museum, Narratives of _Opolis, and showcases the design journey behind the recently completed Bihar Museum located at Patna. The winning proposal in a competition held by the Bihar Government, the museum was designed by Mumbai-based firm, _Opolis in collaboration with Maki and Associates, a Japanese practice headed by Pritzker prize-winning architect Fumihiko Maki.

Conceived as an interconnected play of buildings, the museum houses a rich variety of treasures from the region and includes spaces that nurture the State’s history. Distinct spaces are linked together through courtyards and the structure is composed of various textures, the most striking being the weathering steel used on the façade. A similar idea resonates in the exhibition as well, which has been divided into panels such as Design Scheme, Entrance Area, Children’s Gallery, Cloisters and Connectors, Main Galleries, Courtyards and Landscape, along with an infographic panel that highlights the project details. Handcrafted models of the museum, along with the firms’ other works, are also on display, providing a holistic sense of the creative inclinations.

The inauguration earlier this week, included a talk by architect Rahul Gore on the design practices and philosophy of his firm _Opolis, which he founded with Sonal Sancheti in 2001. Elucidating on the collaboration with Fumihiko Maki, Rahul maintained, “The design discussions were seamless and we were clear that the architecture would be contemporary, serving as a backdrop for history.” Rahul also opened up about the travelling exhibit, which has already been presented in five cities and will soon move to New Delhi and Mumbai, “We wanted to take our design around the community and bring to light the hidden elements that go into the making of such projects.”

The interiors of Bihar Museum

Rahul’s talk was the first in a series of interactive events which aim to introduce varied perspectives to the architecture fraternity of the city, in the Open Office Week and Portfolio ’19 organised by the Chennai Architecture Foundation (CAF). Kishore Panikkar, partner at architectureRED, elaborates, “CAF is now working to organise two to three-day workshops that involve students, faculty and professionals in Architecture, triggering conversations on the development of the practice.” So why focus on the Bihar Museum? “People need to know about the positive experiences of working with the Government and we hope that the museum sets a benchmark for future Government-led public projects, in the design, execution and bureaucratic involvement too,” concludes Rahul.

The exhibition is open till October 26 from 10 am to 6 pm at IIT Madras Research Park, Kanagam, and is open to all.

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