Odisha: an Architectural Odyssey

It’s a pleasure to meet Prof. S.S.Ray, Director , School of Architecture and Planning at Bhubaneswar. Prof Ray shared his book ‘Odisha: an architectural Odyssey’ with me on December 28, 2018 which is jointly written with Dr.Kajri Misra.

The architecture of Odisha is rich, varied and emblematic of its history and culture. In this first of its kind compilation, Dr. S. S. Ray and Dr. Kajri Misra capture the diversity and variety, in a comprehensive timeline perspective of architectural evolution of the state. The authors combine their technical proficiency, rich academic and professional experience and personal understanding of the local culture and ethos to provide an informative tour of the extensive architectural vocabulary of Odisha. Generously illustrated with original photographs, drawings and artistic impressions, and presented in a lucid, easy-to-read style, this book will appeal to students, scholars, tourists and general enthusiasts of architecture alike.

In this painstakingly documented and engagingly narrated book, the authors and their research team systematically profile numerous examples of different types of buildings and aesthetic expressions as they emerged from the socio-cultural and religious developments over three millennia. All major building typologies are explored, including the sacred and the secular, the vernacular and the classic, the traditional and the avante-garde. The nine chapters in turn cover the timeless indigenous aesthetic sensibilities expressed in tribal settlements, sacred architecture of the Jains and Buddhists, classical Hindu temples and the many other types, defensive architecture in the Forts, the royal sensibilities and influences in the Palaces, Art and Craft heritage, European stylistic influences in colonial constructions, Post-Independence architectural expressions and the contemporary variety. New lessons in the architectural history of the state are elaborated as much as those already learnt are re-interpreted in the light of fresh documentation.

Short Introduction of Prof. S.S.Ray

Soumyendu Shankar Ray has applied the design approaches he has taught for three decades, extensively in his practice – adventurous juxtaposition of the conventional and the cutting edge, and the conservative and the avant-garde. His work is striking in the exciting departures within disciplined geometries, and radical reinterpretations of the traditional aesthetic in contemporary materials. As former Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, Biju Patnaik University of Technology, Odisha, and now the Director of the School of Architecture and Planning, KIIT University, he has consistently championed the contextualization of the architecture curriculum.

Ray nurtured Vastukar, the firm he founded in 1985 through the decades when architecture was little known in the region, Vastukar is now one of the largest and most respected firms for Architecture, Planning and Urban Design. His work has been featured in academic and professional journals, including Architecture+ Design, Indian Architects and Builders and the Journal of the Indian Institute of Architects. He has won several design competitions, served on national juries, and lectured in both national and international fora. “Odisha – an Architectural Odyssey” the book he has co-authored, is a comprehensive timeline perspective of architectural evolution of the region.

Prof. Ray studied Architecture at Sir J.J. College of Architecture, Mumbai and IIT Roorkee. In view of his distinctive body of professional and academic work, the Council of Architecture has entrusted him with shaping its Training and Research Centre (COA-TRC) at Bhubaneswar as its Honorary Director.