Architecture Discipline

Architecture Discipline

New Delhi, IN




Every settlement that has grown into a sprawling metropolis has its share of unique walkable shopping destinations. The narrow winding lanes of Old Delhi share their origins with the bazaars of Istanbul, Rome & countless other cities and exhibit very nearly the same urban characteristics – nonlinear paths, raised platforms that define boundaries, the overhead view crisscrossed with temporary shades and a fundamental thrift in establishing permanence.

The current urban scenario in Delhi could not be more indifferent to the walking pedestrian. The streets are now wide unfathomable roads, primarily suited to the speeding vehicle and the resulting urban retail architecture is a blur of advertising hoardings. Nowhere does this manifest more strongly than on MB Road, where the average speed is too fast to perceive an individual product in a show-window and signage jostles for eyeballs.

In this hostile urban arena, the client required a retail space to showcase antique furniture and artefacts. The site was part of a huge abandoned area called Dhar Mill Complex, previously populated with granaries. The intent was to announce the presence of the store without resorting to banal graphics, almost like an urban sculpture, fabricated in inexpensive means within the urban milieu. Thus, the façade is composed entirely of a wall of mesh in three different sizes of spacing and three colours. Also, the asphalt road is brought inside in order to further enhance the outside context with the interiors. Made from an inexpensive kind of prefabricated galvanized iron, this mesh achieves the transparency of glass without the accompanying flatness. The resulting three dimensional composition of colour changes depending from your point of view, allowing it to engage with those moving at high speed, while all the time giving priority to the proximity of the pedestrian.

In the interiors, the large theatrical space reveals itself as an indoor bazaar. One navigates in a nonlinear manner, moving through connected platforms that unfold and step away in a series of cropped hexagonals. Finished either in exposed concrete or slatted wood, these are the stages for the various products, creating a display that encourages ‘discovery’. Equal emphasis has been given to the ceiling, which appears like the sky on a festive day in North India. Hundreds of triangular kite-like surfaces are suspended under the black painted ceiling, reflecting light below. The suspended raceways provide uplight and down light, as in a typical Indian street with overhead lines etc. Bright primary colours, inspired by the colourful plastic sheets favoured by street hawkers, form the backdrop to these hexagonal platforms, offsetting the strong geometry of the two horizontal planes.

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Status: Built
Location: Dhan Mills Compound Chattarpur, New Delhi
Firm Role: Principal Architect