LuxeBook September -2021

Architect Pooja Bihani walks us through the wondrous process of sprucing up a royal heritage property in Odisha BY RUHI GILDER IMAGES COURTESY: VIVEK DAS The Royal Renovation T he first time Pooja Bihani entered the Belgadia Palace, it seemed to her as the setup of an artsy magazine photoshoot. Amid areas in need of repair, was suspended an ancient chandelier, complemented by a white claw-foot bathtub against the backdrop of a peeling plaster wall. It was love at first sight for the architect. After a year and a half of hard work, founder and Principal Architect of Spaces & Design, Pooja Bihani, converted the space into something not just magazine-worthy, but fit for royalty. Owned by the Bhanjdeo royal family of Baripada, the 23,500 square foot home is now a royal experiential boutique hotel. The Project Completed in February 2017, the brief for the project was to simply restore the old glory of the palace and update it with modern amenities. Bihani was also tasked with the challenge of maximising the number of rooms, while sparingly using new furniture. Taking it up a notch, Spaces & Designs eventually decided to not use any new furniture in the palace. Instead, they banked on re-polished and restored furniture present in the royal archives. They also utilised parts of the royal palaces of the family in Kolkata and Shillong. The heritage property was constructed on the orders of Maharani Sumitra Devi Bhanj Deo in 1804, who ruled the state from 1796 to 1810. Constructed with brick in the classical Western style, the structure is adorned with Doric-Corinthian columns and is a mixture of Greek and Victorian architecture. The style of architecture gives guests a taste of the family’s roots which can be traced back to Nepal, Rajasthan and Odisha. Each room brings out a different style, and is painted in bright colours, giving it a unique look. The estate is situated on a hill, surrounded by orchards, groves, and is close to the Simlipal Tiger and Elephant Reserve. BEHIND THE SCENES 14| L U X E B O O K | S E P T E MB E R 2 0 2 1 S E P T E MB E R 2 0 2 1 | L U X E B O O K | 15