In the city of Kolkata, an arts center in raw concrete pays tribute to a revolutionary poet and a bold architect

Kazi Nazrul Islam, one of Bengal's most popular poets and singers, now has a museum in his honor in the Indian city of Kolkata. The design of this imposing building uses raw concrete an inspiration from the French architect Le Corbusier’s architectural style, and is constructed in Agilia®, the self-compacting, self-leveling concrete by LafargeHolcim.


It's a unique building in the urban landscape of the city of Kolkata! Officially opened in May 2014 to mark the 115th anniversary of the birth of Indian poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, the Nazrul Tirtha arts and education center is created from seven cubes of raw concrete in homage to the famous poet Kazi Narul Islam, and is home to a museum, library and lecture theatre.

To break the potential monotony of its external walls, architect Abin Chaudhuri has zebra-striped the surfaces of the concrete cubes with broken lines to create an illusion of continuity between the blocks, and has perforated them with openings that allow light to flood into the building. The imposing concrete facade above the entrance is supported by a series of stilts, and is carved with a verse from one of Kazi Nazrul Islam's most famous poems Vidrohi (The Rebel).

The concrete revolution in the heart of the city of Kolkata

So what was the biggest challenge of this architectural project? It was supplying 800m³ of concrete with consistent quality, appearance and color throughout the 8 months of on-site works.

After lengthy discussions with the architect and construction company, our LafargeHolcim team suggested the use of Agilia® self-compacting, self-leveling concrete. To demonstrate its qualities, we constructed an in-situ mockup to persuade them that this was the right way to go.

Constructed in accordance with high-quality environmental standards (low energy consumption, rainwater recovery, etc.), this new arts center is "the first public building in the city of Kolkata to have such a vast concrete surface on public view", says architect Abin Chaudhuri.

This unique building uses concrete as a tribute to Le Corbusier, one of the boldest architects of the 20th century, and his contemporary, the poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, himself a revolutionary in his own right...

Nazrul Tirtha arts and education center, Kolkata, India