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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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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