A sensitively-approached award-winning design, Café Lota & the Museum Shop revitalizes the National Crafts Museum hub using local materials and Indian art and craft to elevate the spirit of the spaces and re-engage people of all ages.
Invited by the Chairperson of the National Crafts Museum (NCM) in Delhi to transform its dusty and damp premises into a revitalized space, the brief required a redesign of the Museum Shop, attached Café and courtyard sections, all of which were in a state of disrepair.
The overall idea was to retain the use of humble materials in building the framework and functional aspects and apply craft to elevate the spirit of the spaces. The concept also takes forward the original planning principles of architect Charles Correa in the design: utilizing, synchronizing and skimming its gentle scale with sensitive, low-footprint interventions that reweave the previous spatial narrative with new threads of familiarity. The same approach has thereafter been adapted by the Museum team for further development of the entire NCM complex.
For the Museum Shop, building openings have been reconfigured to connect it naturally to the landscape around. This increased the visibility of the store and created a sense of lightness by bringing in daylight from the old internal courts. The high volume of the building and elements such as old timber rafters have been restored and revealed by removing the false ceilings and reviving construction details. The walls serve as a canvas for either storytelling through local art and craft or for merchandise.
Café Lota is a natural extension of the Museum Shop and is set in the negative space created between the store and boundary wall. A lightweight metal framework inserted into this odd volume ties the space together and creates nooks and portals for people to dine and converse in. Intermediary spaces are filled with plants to shape a light, airy yet shaded enclosure that makes full use of the beautiful trees and painted walls that surround the eatery. A bamboo trellis of varying density brings in changing patterns of dappled light into the space through the day
Both spaces use a tight palette of local materials such as Sandstone, Mango Timber, Mild Steel and sand-plastered walls to create a monolithic backdrop for the crafted objects and an earthy setting binding the areas. Modular and easy to re-configure MS and timber display systems that span tall vertical surfaces in some places effectively holds the varying nature of craft objects and textiles.