The architect of the Kettuvallam Bridge on Marine Drive, Binoy P.S., says it is his claim to immortality as an architect
Once upon a time there was a young boy from North Paravur who would gape, wonderstruck, at the buildings along Marine Drive. “This was one stretch, in those days, where there were many tall buildings. It was during these trips that a wish to design such buildings took shape. Those buildings inspired me to take up architecture,” says Binoy P.S. He designed the recently-inaugurated Kettuvallam Bridge along the Marine Drive walkway.
The bridge, says the 39 year-old Binoy, is his claim to immortality as an architect. “There is hardly any space left on Marine Drive for construction and I may not get an opportunity to build anything. So this was my chance to make a mark.”
As Binoy explains how the bridge came to be, it is evident that he sees it as a ‘great personal and professional achievement’. The Kettuvallam Bridge is his first public project. His design was selected on the basis of a competition held by the Kochi chapter of the Indian Institute of Architects, at the behest of the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA), inviting designs for the proposed bridge. The key point on the brief was “contemporary design with a traditional concept”.
Plus the bridge had to complement the existing two bridges, the Rainbow Bridge and the Cheenavala Bridge. His design met this criterion, along with two other points and was selected from six other shortlisted entries.
Accessibility was an important criterion for him. “My ammachi (mother) cannot climb the other two bridges. So I wanted to design something that would be accessible for the aged, for everybody in fact,” he says. Therefore, instead of steps, there is a gentle slope that leads to the top of the bridge.
The deck on top can serve as seating space for guests, the glass-enclosed portion below would serve as a take-away counter and a space for a kitchen. This took care of the revenue generating aspect. On why he chose the Kettuvallam, he says, “the backwaters at Marine Drive is a symbol of Kochi and I wanted to use that as the motif.”
And to think he almost did not become an architect. “My father had a civil engineering firm in North Paravur and he wanted me to join him.” But, Binoy knew he wanted different things.
A diploma holder in civil engineering, he appeared for a qualifying exam conducted by the Indian Institute of Architects and qualified as an architect. In 2001 he set up his architecture firm, P.S. Binoy Architects in North Parur and now has an office in Kochi too. Besides residences he has designed buildings for various builders and hotel projects in Kerala.