Donyi Polo Airport -The Great Hornbill
STUDIOARO, driven by a passion for storytelling through design, envisioned more than a gate; they envisioned a symbol. The Great Hornbill, a majestic creature deeply rooted in the region's biodiversity, now stands poised as an emblem at the gateway to the new airport.
“We wanted the airport gate to be a symbol of diversity for the state and redirect the focus towards conservation which is so important in this day and age. As airports represent flight and the first airplanes were inspired by the flight of birds our initial consideration was how this impacted the design of the airport gate” explains Ar. Aroty Panyang
STUDIOARO, with extensive architectural training, ecological building materials, expert artisans, and modern parametric design, creates unique structures in the global sustainable architecture movement. Arunachal Pradesh occupies a very unique geographical zone in the northeast of India. A land of rich diversity and a place where nature flourishes. Thousands of species of animals, plants and insects call this place home.
When entrusted with the task of designing and constructing a gate for the Donyi Polo Airport, the team at STUDIOARO embraced the opportunity with fervent enthusiasm. The vision for the gate transcended mere functionality; it aspired to become a distinctive landmark, embodying the essence of the Great Hornbill. Immersing themselves in a meticulous study of the Great Hornbill, every facet became a source of inspiration from its distinctive features to the graceful contours of its form, and even the poetry of its flight through the skies. This comprehensive exploration served as the creative compass guiding the architectural journey.
In the hands of STUDIOARO, the design process became a profound dialogue with nature, translating the spirit of the Great Hornbill into a tangible and iconic structure. This gate is not merely an entrance; it is a tribute to the region's rich natural heritage, a testament to the fusion of creativity and environmental consciousness.
Some of the most striking characteristics were the beak and how majestic it is to the size of the body, and the bird’s great wingspan. These features were incorporated into the design of the gate. As the wings span across the entry and exit roads, the gate is designed as a double-headed Great Hornbill so that the people entering the airport as well as entering the state by flight are greeted by this great and majestic bird. The Great Hornbill is the state bird of Arunachal Pradesh – it is a unique bird with very distinct features and served as the perfect inspiration for the design of the gate.
While building such a landmark structure it was important to consider the material to be used in construction. The vision was to create a symbolic language with the use of local materials. The gate is built entirely with bamboo and cane from Arunachal Pradesh and only the best quality materials were used. The process of building with these materials started with selection. Healthy groves were identified and only bamboo which is four years old was harvested.
They chose two types of bamboo – Bambusa tulda (Jati Bamboo) for the roofing and Bambusa balcooa (Baluka) for the arches and main structure. “One of the biggest challenges in this project was that the timeframe for construction was during the monsoon, and Arunachal Pradesh is known to receive some of the highest amounts of rainfall in the country. The first challenge which this posed was in the harvest. But our team is dedicated and managed to complete this despite the adverse weather conditions” unfolds Aroty Panyang.
Our expedition embarked on a voyage of material discovery, a narrative woven through the exploration of bamboo groves situated in remote locations, far from accessible roads. As we delved into the heart of these lush landscapes, a realization unfolded — some bamboo groves were nestled at considerable distances, demanding a remarkable commitment to transport the bamboo to our project site. The verdant terrain posed its challenges, with wet and slippery forest paths standing between us and our sustainable building material.
The endeavour became more than a construction project; it became a labour of dedication and resilience. In the hands of skilled artisans, bamboo transformed into a symbol of both challenge and triumph. Hand-carried across unforgiving landscapes, each bamboo shoot carried with it the story of a collective effort to harmonize with nature. This journey of material exploration not only became the foundation of our architectural endeavor but also a tale of human perseverance and environmental symbiosis. The bamboo, once distant and elusive, emerged as a bridge connecting the rugged terrains of nature with the intricate design of human ingenuity.
When bamboo is fresh, it is quite heavy! But one critical requirement is that the bamboo has to be treated before it dries out so our team managed to do this well. We had already set up our treatment plant at a separate location so once the bamboo was harvested it was transported directly to the plant for treatment. We also set up a covered location close to the airport gate site so that parts of the structure were pre-fabricated for use in the final gate. The realization of this project stands as a testament to the dedication of 15 skilled artisans who invested five months of their time, working tirelessly to bring this vision to life. These artisans, the unsung heroes of the endeavour, orchestrated a systematic and timely production, ensuring every requirement was met with precision and artistry. Their craftsmanship, a fusion of skill and commitment, breathes life into the project.
In a world increasingly drawn to conventional materials like concrete and steel, Arunachal Pradesh echoes this trend. However, amidst this shift, the project celebrates and champions a material deeply ingrained in the region's heritage—bamboo. Recognizing bamboo as one of the most sustainable materials on the planet, the gate serves as a poignant reminder of Arunachal's rich tradition. Beyond its physical presence, the gate aspires to be a symbolic bridge, reconnecting Arunachal Pradesh with its people. It carries the hope of rekindling a profound relationship between the community and its sustainable roots, urging a harmonious coexistence between tradition and modernity. This architectural endeavour emerges not just as a structure but as a cultural dialogue, weaving together the threads of heritage, craftsmanship, and a sustainable future for Arunachal Pradesh.
Firm Name : STUDIOARO
Project Name: The Great Hornbill Gate of Donyi Polo Airport.
Project Location: Arunachal Pradesh, India
Built up - Area: 2500 sq. ft.
Material: Bamboo & Cane
Lead Designer: Aroty Panyang
Photo Credits: Shahul Shibili
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