By Savitha Hira
Photography: Deepshikha Jain; courtesy Soul Studio
Studio SOUL is refurbishing the heritage beacon of Rajasthan – the Jawahar Kala Kendra, with a thoughtful conservation of its architectural character and the original architect’s lofty vision…
As an important centre for contemporary Indian art and cultural activities, the legendary Jawahar Kala Kendra (1986-1981), Jaipur, designed by legendary Indian Architect Charles Correa, is undergoing revitalization with part restoration and part renovation at the hands of Mumbai-based Studio SOUL headed by architects Dhaval Malesha and Devendra Bawdane.
Initiated in March 2015, phase-I has just been completed in March 2016 with the administration, theatre, canteen and library blocks spruced up to meet the demands of contemporary times.
Keeping the centre operational throughout, the stone clad walls have been cleaned and maintained, restoring motifs along the way. Plumbing and electrical lines have been next on the agenda, with toughened glass replacing old fibre skylights and LED fixtures replacing the old high-energy-consuming lights.
Signage has been suitably introduced with a large graphic map of the building laser etched in MDF positioned at the information desk. Since the Kendra is planned along the concept of the nine planets with nine squares, way finding signs guide visitors from the entrance to the various blocks and activities, with ramps now easing movement for the specially challenged.
The most frequently visited canteen or coffee shop of the complex is now rejuvenated with the whole area painted in white in keeping with its ‘Moon” concept and the paintings restored to their near-original glory. Smaller details include a new cash counter finished in Kota and granite, a kiddie hand-wash and a well-designed menu card!
The library now has a special children’s section on the first floor, workstations for researchers and provision for poetry and book reading sessions and the like. Modular trapezoidal seating in vibrant colours makes for flexi-seating options, as wild growing African Grass ushers a bit of the outside indoors.
|Theatre - Before renovation|
A whole new environment is carved out in the completely revamped theatre too. Frameless butt-joint toughened glass panels (5 ft x 10 ft each) now offer undivided view of the lush green lawn, where a heavy aluminum fence once circled the courtyard. And an array of randomly positioned small lights light up the foyer ceiling like a star-studded night sky.
With the Kendra designed according to Vastu-Shastra, a strong architectural vocabulary prevails. Incorporating air conditioning, new electrical and electronic gadgetry and making provisions for a toilet block in addition to ramps has been sensitively handled, discerningly preserving the architectural character of visionary architect Correa.
The ongoing project is scheduled for completion by end 2016.