An experimental art laboratory in an Urban village ghetto in New Delhi, Khoj is designed as an organic space where dialogue, exchange, and transfer of information, energy and skills takes place as an intensely-lived experience to reflect the visions, dreams and opinions of its inhabitants.
The design task entailed the creation of a space reflecting the ethos of Khoj which is based on facilitating a flow of ideas and the freedom to explore without the fear of failure. A live space needed to be moulded that would open up architecturally to the local community.
The brief was to fuse two adjoining rundown buildings acquired by the client, into one and provide a series of interactive, flexible spaces by connecting these two units. The project uses recycled architectural elements from the existing structures, as a palette to create volumes of positive and negative space for artists to live and work in. The project actively seeks to question and negotiate the boundaries of private and public space, and the role of art in engaging communities and neighbourhoods.
The multiple disconnected staircases that populated the two buildings were removed and a single metal spine was inserted into the building in the form of ramps, staircases and bridges to create a circulation system that bound the programme together. The spaces were closed with slim sliding folding doors that open into verandahs and courtyards as the ‘new’ inserts in the space allowing tremendous flexibility during varying conditions, from intense private situations to evenings when the building opens out as a gallery for “open house”.
The focus throughout the process was to view the space as a “void”, a skeleton that allows for the artists to create within and over it. A steel framework that combined the two buildings was added as an element that tied together the two otherwise distinct buildings and also allowed an additional layer for the artists to work with. One of the key principles used through the project was to base the project on principles of minimum-waste and recycle almost all elements. Architectural harmony was achieved by painting the entire patchwork of disparate elements with an overlay of white.