Roxburgh International Hub is being developed by S&B+Alleya, a consortium between Simpson & Brown, Edinburgh, and Alleya and Associates, Kolkata, in association with the Botanical Survey of India (BSI), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC), Government of India.
William Roxburgh was the first paid Superintendent of the Calcutta Botanic Garden – once the finest in Asia – and is widely known as the “Founding Father of Indian Botany”. The house he built and inhabited during his stay at the Gardens, and some other buildings built by his successors lie neglected and disrepair and are now in dire need of a helping hand.
An MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) has been signed between the BSI and S&B+Alleya in October 2019 for the restoration of heritage buildings and the creation of new facilities in the AJC Bose Indian Botanic Garden across the river from the City of Kolkata.
The project, with a working title of Roxburgh International Hub (RIH) comprises the restoration and re-use of three heritage buildings, along with the creation of some new facilities and landscaped spaces around them in the AJC Bose Indian Botanic Garden at Sibpur, Howrah, across the Hooghly River from the City of Kolkata.
These buildings and facilities will be designed as an institution to conduct research, provide education, create awareness, and generate opportunities for development of skills and entrepreneurship among locals – especially women and the younger generation – around issues relating to the environment, sustainable living, and climate change.
In conducting its activities, RIH hopes to re-vitalise the AJC Bose Indian Botanic Garden by bringing to it a range of new activities founded on the relationship between the botanical sciences, the environment, and climate change.
RIH also aims to provide training, develop skills and promote entrepreneurship through a series of skill based workshops organized around the process of restoration of historic buildings and construction using environmentally appropriate materials and technologies.
RIH also seeks to re-establish a solar powered passenger ferry service from Kolkata across the Hooghly River by restoring the Garden’s own ferry ‘Ghat’ (jetty), and seeking help of the Government of West Bengal to make the garden accessible again by river for the benefit of city residents, students, schoolchildren, visitors and tourists alike. The provision of café and other facilities and a museum for scientific and historic artefacts from the Garden will make visiting the Botanics a practical, easy and hence a popular destination for many from the city, raising awareness about the fragility and the importance of sustainable, green environments and habitats.
The project has got the clearance of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC), Government of India, and the sourcing of funding for the first phase of the project – the restoration of Roxburgh House, in on.
Views of the project after completion – Roxburgh House, The Old Herbarium and the landscaped court seen from Roxburgh House terrace
Current state of William Roxburgh House
Current state of the Old Herbarium