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Young Achiever: Arnav Daga

EducationWorld March 2024 | Young Achiever
Baishali Mukherjee (Kolkata)

Arnav DagaFor building the world’s tallest (11ft 4 inches) freestanding structure showcasing four iconic buildings of Kolkata — St. Paul’s Cathedral, Writers’ Building, Shaheed Minar, and Salt Lake Stadium — in 41 days using 143,000 playing cards without tape or adhesive, city-based Arnav Daga (16) merited an entry into Guinness World Records last December (2023). Arnav broke the record set 11 years ago by US national and architect Bryan Berg, who showcased a freestanding playing cards structure measuring 9ft 5 inches of three hotels in Macau (China).

This is only the latest achievement of this extraordinary ‘architect’. In 2020 at age 13, Arnav won an entry into the Asia Book of Records and India Book of Records for balancing a 10.7 ft tall replica (using 6,832 playing cards) of the Empire State Building (USA). And the following year, he smashed his own record by building the tallest (15ft 10 inches) replica of Delhi’s Qutub Minar, using 21,000 playing cards. Arnav’s floor-to-ceiling masterpieces can be viewed on his YouTube channel christened Arnavinnovates.

The only child of business couple Neraj and Payel Daga and a class X student of the Sri Sri Academy, Kolkata, Arnav took to balancing playing cards at age eight. Fascinated by this arcane craft and encouraged by his parents, he started exploring YouTube videos of master craftsman Bryan Berg. “The moment I saw Berg’s videos, I knew I wanted to make stacking my passion. For my entry into the Asia and India Book of Records, I owe a debt of gratitude to my principal Gargi Banerjee for allowing me to keep my 16 ft Qutub Minar masterpiece in a corner of the school auditorium,” says Arnav.

What began as an extra-curricular is currently a daily three-hour compulsion. Most weekends, Arnav goes on a city tour to shortlist heritage buildings for his future projects. “Stacking requires considerable investment of time, energy and patience in a range of activities from studying the architecture of buildings to finding a suitable warehouse,” says this never-say-die teen.

Currently writing his class X board exam, Arnav is looking to taking on new challenges. “After my Plus Two, I intend to enroll in a B.Arch degree programme and qualify as an architect. After that I hope to build a life-size House of Cards which people can physically enter and explore,” says Arnav.

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