Kalabhoomi : Museum of Handicrafts and Handloom


Bhubaneshwar, Odisha | 2018

Odisha State Crafts Museum also known as Kalabhoomi is  envisaged as a confluence of the state’s diverse ethnic, folk and craft culture in its capital, Bhubaneswar. The museum has dedicated galleries for terracotta, traditional painting, stone and wood crafts, metal crafts, and handloom. Courtyards dedicated to tribal living and temple architecture are part of the museum complex. The entrance forecourt to the museum has a Grama devi installation under a large tree. An amphitheatre, souvenir shop, outdoor canteen and children’s play area interweave with spaces for outdoor display. Installations of traditional Tulsi Charaha form a recurrent motif in the outdoors.


05- Lingaraja Temple- 11CE
06- Bhubaneshwar city- 1950
07- International aiport

01- Daya river
02- Sisupalgarh - 4BCE
03- Udayagiri- Khandagiri- 2BCE
04- Old Bhubaneshwar

Located on the East coast of India, Bhubaneswar is fringed by the Daya river on the east and the forests of Chandaka along the west-northwest edge. Bhubaneswar has been a lived landscape for centuries. It is especially known for its city planning in ancient and modern history. Bhubaneswar is called the Ekamra Kshetra as the deity of Lingaraja was originally under a solitary mango tree (Ek-amra) as noted in Ekamra Purana, (13th century CE). 

Once regarded as a ‘Temple City’ because of nearly seven hundred large and small temples, it still contains a cluster of magnificent temples that exhibit the evolution of Kalinga architecture from its early stages to its culmination. These temples are broadly centred around the Bindusagar pond. Ekamra Kshetra exhibits clear hierarchy of roads, integration of water bodies and is regarded to be a non-geometric derivative of the Mandala concept.

Beyond the physical landscape of Ekamra Kshetra a wider spectrum of cultural occupation and epochs lie on a near straight line. This line is marked on the west, marked by the Udayagiri-Khandagiri rock cut cave complex (c.2nd century BCE) while the fortified Mauryan era town of Sisupalgarh (c. 4th century BCE) marks the eastern edge, along the Daya river.



The site comprised of linear sheds in various stages of disrepair and overgrown with weeds. A large number of native and introduced varieties of trees were already present prior to the development. Along the eastern edge, a circular chimney, part of a kiln, was an image-able identity for the site. Two other significant elements- both large trees from the Banyan family at the front of the site were revealed when the overgrown site was cleared in parcels. A dilapidated well near the south held water seasonally, and was retained.


Along the South-west edge, a linear thicket of Palymra/Tala palms (Borassus flabelifer) formed a clear skyline, while the northern part was more arboreal.

View of entrance block from pedestrian gate

View of entrance block from pedestrian gate

View of entrance block from within museum Forecourt

View of entrance block from within museum Forecourt



The vernacular landscape of Odisha was studied as a means to understand the key factors that could be used as an ‘essence’ for approaching landscape design for the Museum. For this, the landscape architecture team visited places including Puri. Cuttack, Baripada, Similipal and Old Bhubaneshwar to seek cues. The experience of seeing the Jagganath Puri Rathas being built provided a key point of reference regarding the blurred boundaries between craft, folklore, tradition and natural resources.
The architecture of the museum buildings invoked the image of bamboo palisades found in village dwellings, as a maetallic gate design, while the carved laterite compound wall detailed by skilled craftsmen, alluded to mansions and temples. These became further cues for the landscape design.

View from Entrance block through the museum’s Forecourt, with various ethnic displays.

View from Entrance block through the museum’s Forecourt, with various ethnic displays.

The existing trees (one of each species) that find use in traditional handicraft or have religious significance , are articulated with a carved laterite planter. The stepped walls abstract village building masses and function as screens and pedestals for display of grain container earthenware seen outside village houses. The Tulsi Charahas installed by the museum curatorial team are some of the most rare examples of a lost art form.

Pathway between Handicraft block and museum Forecourt

Pathway between Handicraft block and museum Forecourt

Ceremonial pathway passing along the  kund  acts an an abstraction of the  Ratha  driveway

Ceremonial pathway passing along the kund acts an an abstraction of the Ratha driveway

The Amra (mango) Marg between the Handicraft and Handloom blocks, with the straight wide pathway and building facade designed like local houses. invokes the principal streets of the Jagganatha Puri procession route.

A stepped rainwater kund, referenced from the kunds in the vicinity of temples, functions as a key transition zone between blocks. The space opposite the laterite kund is an attempt to allow users and programmes to create new and temporary meanings for this space. It consists of contrasting images such as a platform under an existing mango tree, like a village sitout, with the background of tall buildings of the adjoining site.


The Conservation zone along the South-west of the site receives the entire runoff from the site. This zone is designed as a bio-drainage area to naturally take up excessive moisture and prevent sedimentation.
A Kadamba grove (Neolomarckia cadamba) and a wide swathe of naturally growing grasses collectively provide this function as the landscape edge blurs into the existing Palmyra trees and understorey which extend beyond the site edge. The attempt here is to broaden the green linkage and bring biodiversity into the site through this extended landscape corridor.

2018 HUDCO Design Awards- Landscape Planning and Design

Typology: Public space | Site Planning | Culture | Institutional
Extent: 14 acres

Architect: Architects' Studio, Bhubaneshwar
Ficus: Sriganesh, Aparna, Saptaparni, Sagar