Portal 92 designs a café inspired by the ‘memory of a village’ in Moradabad, India

A maze-like layout dotted with terracotta plastered walls and brass paraphernalia stands out at The Village Café , designed by New Delhi-based studio, Portal 92.

by Zohra Khan Jan 02, 2020

A café and bar in the northern Indian city of Moradabad has been inspired by the imagery of an Indian village, giving its visitors a chance to sip ‘a drink down memory lane’. True to its name, the space is called The Village Café, and is designed by New Delhi-based architectural studio, Portal 92. “The intent was to design a space which represents a lucid memory of a village for today's urban Indian,” say principal architects Aanchal Sawhney and Sagar Goyal.

They started their ideation by studying the dichotomy in what villages represent, the interpretations of their relevance, and their ever-changing state.

The café is split into two levels with spaces for both indoor and outdoor seating  | The Village Café | Portal 92 | STIRworld
The café is split into two levels with spaces for both indoor and outdoor seating Image Credit: Niveditaa Gupta

Depicting the quintessential image of a traditional village where roads lead to unexpected intersections, and quaint alleys extend into tucked corners, the designers created an organic maze-like layout for the space and dotted it with low-lying terracotta plastered walls that hint to walls of traditional adobe villages.

The raised terrace with a contact bar on the left and terracotta walls enclosing seating within and around | The Village Café | Portal 92 | STIRworld
The raised terrace with a contact bar on the left and terracotta walls enclosing seating within and aroundImage Credit: Niveditaa Gupta

The 600 sqm space is split into two levels. The raised terrace has a contact bar positioned on one side and a semi-shaded outdoor seating on the other. The walls double as partitions on both the levels, creating intimate enclosures around which the seating is laid. The furniture comprises wooden benches, burnished wire-frame chairs and fixed stone seating lining the walls.

Sleek lines against earthy walls define the bar| The Village Café | Portal 92 | STIRworld
Sleek lines against earthy walls define the bar Image Credit: Niveditaa Gupta

A distinct fluidity is added by a series of concrete rings that puncture the terracotta walls and reveal glimpses throughout. A contrast to the overarching warmth of these walls is created by planters that are interspersed within the space.

Planters lend a welcoming contrast to the overarching warmth of the central court | The Village Café | Portal 92 | STIRworld
Planters lend a welcoming contrast to the overarching warmth of the central court Image Credit: Niveditaa Gupta

Overlooking the raised terrace is a massive glass box featuring a frame of concrete portals that cuts through its surface. This space has been kept contemporary and minimal when compared to the larger design intent that is followed outside. The monochromatic portals transition into beams and extend between white swathes of the ceiling. Multiple wooden posts alternate between these beams and suspended pendant lamps that light up the space with a soft illumination. Adding a luminous geometric depth within this space is a series of spherical wall scones that are built in a semi-circular cavity created within each concrete portal.

Subtly breaking the black, grey and white palette of the space is an array of planters offsetting the walls. As evening approaches, light filters through these planters and reflect graphic silhouettes onto the walls, creating an abstract ambience.

  • Customised pendant lamps in the interiors render a soft illumination, while light filtered through planters draw abstract silhouettes on walls | The Village Café | Portal 92 | STIRworld
    Customised pendant lamps in the interiors render a soft illumination, while light filtered through planters draws abstract silhouettes on walls. Image Credit: Niveditaa Gupta
  • Semi-circular cut-outs within the concrete portals hold the wall scones | The Village Café | Portal 92 | STIRworld
    Semi-circular cut-outs within the concrete portals hold the wall scones Image Credit: Niveditaa Gupta

Throughout the space outside the central court, the flooring is made of locally sourced black Kadappa stone that criss-crosses between the terracotta walls and staircase. Within the cafe and bar, various elements highlight the cultural assets of Moradabad city, which is known for its thriving brass handicrafts industry. “Brass vessels of different sizes were incorporated in the décor to reference this local trade,” say the designers. Juxtaposed against the rough Kadappa, brass utensils and other decorative stone paraphernalia inconspicuously sets the space in its context and brings alive the 'memory' of the city that the project has built on.

  • Every sight within <em>The Village Cafe </em> appears as a well-crafted geometric composition | The Village Café | Portal 92 | STIRworld
    Every sight within The Village Cafe appears as a well-crafted geometric composition Image Credit: Niveditaa Gupta
  • The green hue of planters finds a unique balance in the overarching palette of grey, black and brown | The Village Café | Portal 92 | STIRworld
    The green hue of planters finds a unique balance in the overarching palette of grey, black and brown Image Credit: Niveditaa Gupta
  • The low-lying terracotta plastered walls refer to the walls of rural adobe villages | The Village Café | Portal 92 | STIRworld
    The low-lying terracotta plastered walls refer to the walls of rural adobe villages Image Credit: Niveditaa Gupta
  •  The use of brass handicrafts and other decorative paraphernalia reflect the cultural assets of the context  | The Village Café | Portal 92 | STIRworld
    The use of brass handicrafts and other decorative paraphernalia reflect the cultural assets of the context Image Credit: Niveditaa Gupta
  • Layout Plan (Bird’s eye view) | The Village Café | Portal 92 | STIRworld
    Layout Plan (Bird’s eye view) Image Credit: Courtesy of Portal 92
  • Sectional Elevation | The Village Café | Portal 92 | STIRworld
    Sectional Elevation Image Credit: Courtesy of Portal 92

Project Details

Name of the project: The Village Café
Location: Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, India
Client: Prateek Ahuja
Gross Built Area: 600 sqm
Architect: Portal 92
Design Team: Aanchal Sawhney, Sagar Goyal, Praneet Singh, Varsha Rath, Astha Verma
Completion: 2019

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About Author

Zohra Khan

Zohra Khan

A formal education in architecture combined with an avid interest in architecture journalism and design criticism led Khan to professionally venture into writing and research. She has worked in design communication for more than two years, generating content for mondo*arc india journal. When not writing, she kicks back by dabbling on social media for STIR.

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