The architecture of urban bazaars works on a scheme of a mélange; it seems to be the leitmotif for such programmes, introducing a kind of ride through spaces and experiences that are controlled and enhanced through architectural forms and materiality. The visual mélange produces an architectural scenario for the activity of leisure and pleasure, an indulgence in shopping as well as the feeling of partaking in actions related to craft and culture. It creates an urban scope that inserts itself within a different reality; like in an amusement park, a bubble of reality within the everyday reality of the city outside. Lucknow, itself the nerve centre of the Awadh region in erstwhile times and now as state capital is a throbbing cultural hub. Additionally its proximity to Kannauj, Khurja, Bhadohi, Moradabad, Varanasi, Firozabad and many more such cities-each with distinct handicrafts, makes it a relevant place to host a socio-cultural institution as the Awadh Shilpgram. It has been perceived as a single platform for crafts from the city, the region and infact the entire nation. It willalso highlight the cause of over 7 million Indian craftsmen, who not only craft their livelihoods with their hands but also keep alive its cultural legacy. By giving the opportunity to craft persons to personally elaborate, share, interact, learn and teach-in short take their art directly to the buyers-the ordinary people, it will not only help provide economic impetus, but acknowledge the caliber and accord dignity to this humble section of society. Its tactical location on a developing corridor and proximity to proposed new cities allows the available expanse to develop considerable greenery in its vicinity but retain- infact intensify the traditional flavour of informal Bazaars by virtue of the brief. The layout of the twenty-acre Awadh Shilpgram has evolved organically from the commercial, cultural, social and leisurely interactions of people. Light, air and circulation through cross-ventilation further added a dimension of comfort to the design, and its articulation has been realised through a contemporary interpretation of traditional elements of arches and Jaalis.The built environment thus is an interpretative collage, a gesture responding to the unique traditional architecture of the Roomi Darwaza and Imambaras. With nearly two-hundred craft shops of which some are air conditioned, craft courts, a dormitory hostel, an auditorium, and a food court with stalls serving cuisine from different states, Avadh Shilpgram indeed provides generous facilities to visitors and artisans. An elliptical form enables a smooth corner-free circulation; it narrows down while spiralling inward, and emulates the density and vibrancy of traditional Lucknowi Bazaars, The bazaars with the streets that got progressively narrower. An independent structure is arranged to look like an integrated one. Each arch allows entry into the corridor at the ground-floor level. The zigzag form of jaali arches is derived by modifying the basic lines of traditional mughal arches from which one can pass through in the corridors; the double height nature lets one experience the grand feeling of arches like in the Buland Darwaza atAgra.The arch, being an important architectural element of the architecture of the city of Lucknow, is introduced as a skin to the inner face of the buildings, but given a 'make-over' in a contemporary style with continuous access beneath it. Each arch allows entry into the corridor at the ground-floor level. The steel structure is clad with Red Agra sand stone in a Jaali patternwith motifs inspired by the renowned Lucknowi embroidery craft called ‘Chikan kari’. The unique concept along with the form, scale, materials and elements that render the architecture give an iconic building to the city of Nawabs and the people of Lucknow.
Archohm Consults, a multidisciplinary architecture studio, in line with Shri Akhilesh Yadav’s (Chief Minister- Uttar Pradesh) vision, has been responsible for the design of this museum.