NUDES fosters love for reading with the sustainable Bookworm pavilion in Mumbai

The architecture firm, led by Nuru Karim, has been creating enriching environs for people over the years through installations such as Bookworm, Ivy, and Charkha.

by Meghna Mehta Published on : Jan 27, 2020

Mumbai-based architecture firm Nudes, headed by architect Nuru Karim, has over the years made significant contribution to the fabric of city’s landscape by building relevant architecture. The firm recently built two pavilions that were displayed at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), an iconic museum in Mumbai. Another installation by Nudes, ‘Charkha - the spinning wheel’, created for a design competition in 2007, still stands tall at the Cross Maidan in Mumbai as an architectural symbol representing contemporary India.

The public spaces of the city as well as the museum and its surroundings are known for being a creative incubation centre, while these installations bridge the gap between architecture, design, art and people.

Both the pavilions, Bookworm and IVY, addressed different objectives - one was designed to educate and the other to play, interact and grow – and establish the belief that design plays an important role in creating awareness in the minds of the public while being playful experiments and examples that lie peppered in different parts of the city.

  • Bookworm pavilion aimed at empowering through education 
| Bookworm pavilion | Nudes | Nuru Karim | STIRworld
    Bookworm pavilion aimed at empowering through education Image Credit: Sameer Chawda
  • The pavilion created a playful and exploratory platform for children
| Bookworm pavilion | Nudes | Nuru Karim | STIRworld
    The pavilion created a playful and exploratory platform for children Image Credit: Sameer Chawda

The Bookworm pavilion, supported by Priyasri Art Gallery, was set up in the outdoor area of CSMVS museum, where it was on display from October to December 2019. The pavilion was built to create awareness around the importance of learning through the creation of an interactive space. While most library and institutional structures could often be intimidating for children, the pavilion created a landscape of books while inviting children to explore the space and learn simultaneously.

Nuru Karim, the principal architect of the firm, said he wanted to make reading a fun activity. “We wanted to encourage children to pick up books and read, irrespective of the language,” he added. True to its name, the pavilion ‘worms’ through the landscape to offer a unique browsing experience along a meandering pathway.

  • The pavilion worms through the open ground, creating meandering pathways | Bookworm pavilion | Nudes | Nuru Karim | STIRworld
    The pavilion worms through the open ground, creating meandering pathways Image Credit: Sameer Chawda
  • Bookworm also aroused curiosity among the visitors |Bookworm Pavilion| Nudes| Nuru Karim | STIRworld
    Bookworm also aroused curiosity among the visitors Image Credit: Sameer Chawda

Addressing concerns such as illiteracy and taking forward the Indian government’s goal to equate gender ratios in the field of education, the Bookworm pavilion created a physical platform for learning through its design.

Constructed as a retractable pavilion measuring 120’0” in length and 40’0”m in width, Bookworm was built out of approximately 3600 modular prefabricated components to house books and spaces for reading. Created using the base element of a ladder, the entire installation was designed using this module and replicating it in varied forms and dimensions.

The pavilion features low-carbon footprint and promotes sustainable building technologies. It was fabricated off-site and assembled and deployed on site within a week. The books were donated by several schools across the city and then further donated to NGOs and needy children.

  • 01 min watch The component of the ladder and the process of the Bookworm pavilion |Bookworm Pavilion | Nudes | Nuru Karim | STIRworld
    The component of the ladder and the process of the Bookworm pavilion Video Credit: Sameer Chawda
  • Plan of the Bookworm pavilion showing its placement in the landscape of the museum |Bookworm Pavilion| Nudes| Nuru Karim | STIRworld
    Plan of the Bookworm pavilion showing its placement in the landscape of the museum Image Credit: Sameer Chawda
  • Section cut at various heights of the Bookworm pavilion showing the ladder component adapted | Bookworm Pavilion| Nudes| Nuru Karim | STIRworld
    Section cut at various heights of the Bookworm pavilion showing the ladder component adapted Image Credit: Sameer Chawda

Talking about the larger goal of the project, Karim said, “We are hoping that the Bookworm travels across the country in both rural and urban areas, spreading the message of ‘empowerment through education’.” The intention of catalysing the efforts towards educating the Indian society is further concretised through easy fabrication and installation of the pavilion anywhere.

  • Ivy installation as part of the Athymic Nude Mouse exhibition at the CSMVS Museum, Mumbai | Ivy Pavilion| Nudes| Nuru Karim | STIRworld
    Ivy installation as part of the Athymic Nude Mouse exhibition at the CSMVS museum, Mumbai Image Credit: Courtesy of Nudes
  • A visitor looking at the Ivy installation | Ivy Pavilion| Nudes| Nuru Karim| STIRworld
    A visitor looking at the Ivy installation Image Credit: Courtesy of Nudes

IVY, the second installation, was created as part of ‘The Athymic Nude Mouse’, a solo exhibition held by Nudes at the Coomaraswamy Hall of the CSMVS museum in 2019. Also presented by Priyasri Art Gallery, the exhibition explored fractal geometries to create objects of habitable nature as well as art objects. The title of the exhibition refers to the animal experimentation carried out in laboratory tests; here however, it resembles the premise of digital experimentation of form to create exploratory artworks to bring about interesting solutions.

Ivy installation is composed of approximately 2700 discrete interlaced load bearing components |Ivy Pavilion | Nudes | Nuru Karim | STIRworld
Ivy installation is composed of approximately 2700 discrete interlaced load bearing components Image Credit: Courtesy of Nudes

The installation on the grounds of the museum was designed as a lightweight modular installation created from approximately 2700 interlocking parts put together. The system was produced using the idea of self-assembly, driven by digital exploration. This enabled the installation to grow organically based on the principles to play, interact and grow.

Ivy installation created as a ‘self-assembly’ system using digital techniques |Ivy Pavilion| Nudes| Nuru Karim | STIRworld
Ivy installation created as a self-assembly system using digital techniques Image Credit: Courtesy of Nudes

Another notable installation by the firm is the 30-foot high steel sculpture depicting Mahatma Gandhi's charkha, adorning the city's Cross Maidan, which was earlier being encroached by hawkers. Winner of Notions of India, an architectural and engineering design competition, the sculpture was installed during the restoration work undertaken by a city-based NGO, Oval Trust, in a bid to make Cross Maidan an open public space for recreation. The design competition was organised by Tata Structura and Indian Architects and Builders (IA&B) magazine in August 2007 to select an architectural symbol that would best represent the contemporary India. For Karim, the charkha struck as a symbol of modern India. “It represents self-sufficiency, sustainability and hard work,” said the founder and principal of Nudes.

‘Charkha’ designed by Nudes represent modern India |Bookworm Pavilion | Nudes| Nuru Karim | STIRworld
‘Charkha’ designed by Nudes represent modern India Image Credit: Courtesy of Nudes

These installations designed for interaction, awareness, experimentation and exploration aroused curiosity among the visitors, with many of them wanting to know more about the idea behind the installations, spending some time with the books, or simply walking through the pavilions. In all of these cases, the intention to bring art to the people through the public spaces of the city has rightly been achieved, with multiple efforts over the years by Nuru Karim and his firm Nudes.

Project Details

Name: Bookworm pavilion
Location: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), Mumbai, India
Materials: Recycled plywood
Area: 445.93 sqm
Architect: Nudes
Design team: Nuru Karim (Founder & Design Principal Nudes), Aditya Jain, Dhruval Shah, Salai V, Jenish Merchant, A Aravind, Supriya Dubey

Name: Ivy pavilion
Exhibition: The Athymic Nude Mouse
Location: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), Mumbai, India
Dimensions: 17' x 12' x 7' height
Materials: Light weight CNC foam board
Technology: Interlocking pieces (no carpentry or nut bolt assembly required)

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