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“Subterranean Ruins” Community Facility

An Intriguing Continuum of Space and Time

A Threshold

“Subterranean Ruins” Community Facility
By Elisa Grossi -

Just outside the Indian village of Kaggalipura, some 40 km south of Bangalore in the state of Karnataka, a series of brick walls peeps through the dense tropical vegetation of mango, banana, coconut and sugar cane. Although resembling ancient ruins, the structures – aptly named “Subterranean Ruins” – are part of an unusual architectural project by the architecture practice A Threshold. Not far from Bannerghatta National Park, an ideal destination for birdwatchers, the village of Kaggalipura named after the Kaggali tree (Acacia catechu), a constant feature of the rural landscape of this important agricultural area, is home to a few thousand inhabitants, many of whom – laborers, artists and craftsmen – were directly involved in the building process.
The clients were a couple of philanthropists, who, alongside the private section, wanted a multifunctional public center freely accessible to the villagers. The brief demanded that the complex should not be limited to a specific functional program but rather should be able to host school classes, children’s workshops, seminars, exhibitions, concerts and other events, but also double up as guest quarters for the owners’ visiting friends.
Volumetrically, the project design took its cue from the natural elements on the site, in order to seamlessly integrate the new, single-level building into the landscape. None of the existing trees were sacrificed and the steeply sloping site was exploited to create underground spaces. As a result, the complex is not immediately apparent to the visitor, whose gaze is first drawn to the planted roofs, and only subsequently to the main entrance along the basement front. Perfectly camouflaged in the natural landscape, the complex seems almost uninhabited. The structure resembles the remains of some ancient abandoned site. The large arches of different shapes and sizes have been given a rough look making them seem the walls of...

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