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Cafe Lota and Museum Shop

Cafe Lota and Museum Shop

Studio Lotus
New Delhi, Delhi, India | View Map
Image Credits: Randhir Singh

Cafe Lota and Museum Shop, National Crafts Museum, Delhi

Studio Lotus as Architects

Revitalizing a prominent Crafts Hub with new threads of familiarity

The studio was invited by the Chairperson of the National Crafts Museum (NCM)in Delhi to transform its dusty and damp premises into a revitalized space, which would engage people of all ages through the fabric of Indian arts and crafts. The brief required a redesign of the Museum Shop, the attached Café and sections of the courtyard, all of which were in a poor state of disrepair.

The overall idea for the project,with a built-up area of 4000 sqft, was to retain the use of humble materials in building the framework and functional aspects and applying craft to elevate the spirit of the spaces.The concept took forward the original planning principles of architect Charles Correa in the design: utilizing, synchronizing and skimming its gentle scale with sensitive, low-footprint interventions that rebind the accustomedtales of the existing space with new threads of familiarity.

For the Museum Shop, building openings have been reconfigured to connect it naturally to the landscape around. This increased the visibility of the store and created a sense of lightness by bringing in daylight from the old internal courts. The high volume of the building and elements such as old timber rafters have been restored and revealed by removing the false ceilings and reviving construction details. The walls serve as a canvas for either storytelling through craft or for merchandise.

Café Lota is a natural extension of the Museum Shop and is set in the negative space created between the store and boundary wall. A lightweight metal framework inserted into this odd volume ties the space together and creates nooks and portals for people to dine and converse in. Intermediary spaces are filled with plants to shape a light, airy yet shaded enclosure that makes full use of the beautiful trees and painted walls that surround the eatery. A bamboo trellis of varying density brings in changing patterns of dappled light into the space through the day. 

Both spaces use a tight palette of local materials such as sandstones and mango timber, mild-steel and sand plastered walls to create a monolithic backdrop for the crafted objects and an earthy setting binding the areas.Modular display systems spanning tall vertical surfaces in some places are effective to present the varying nature of craft objects and textiles. The design approach has thereafter been adapted by the Museum team for further development of the entire NCM complex.

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