The Youth Café & M.F. Hussain Art Gallery

The Youth Café and M.F. Hussain Art Gallery, at JMI

 Martand Khosla and Romi Khosla,

 Romi Khosla Design Studio (2008)

Having seen pictures of the buildings on the firm’s website, I must admit that I did not expect them to match up to the beautiful images. The images you see on the web are those cool evening shots, in which the building is bathed in its light, clean after a shower and freshly built. You can make any girl look good in a photograph. The café also features on the cover of The Modern Architecture Of New Delhi by Rahul Khanna, 2008.

DirectionsThe buildings turned out to be a gem of a find. Neatly tucked away, in a corner of the Jamia campus, the buildings are small and simple. It must be the tones of white. Monochrome models look beautiful :). When you have a group of buildings designed in relation to each other, you find spaces between them well laid out (debatable if it’s a Libeskind design :p). Here, there’s the added opportunity to go through an art gallery and help your-self to good food. I suggest you go there some evening, especially if you stay at M.B Hostel :). The cafe is managed by FX, and you get good veg & non-veg..

© Courtesy of Romi Khosla Design Studios

Pano 2

There is no point describing how you walk through the place. What need highlighting are the walls that draw your attention: In the canteen, marble has been used in an innovative way- strips laid on their face in steel framework. Very neatly executed, and very thoughtful too. The rest of the building elements are equally sturdy- granite tabletops and seating. Although they impose a lot of order to the place, fixed as they are, the place carries them off well. It’s clean and easy to maintain. Similarly so with the slit screen of the gallery, which has a glazed curtain wall on the inside. Provides diffused light and the interiors are cool. There is also a huge rotatable partition wall in the interior gallery space which increases the flexibility of the space a great deal- as can be seen from the plan provided below. The canteen was the first steel building on the Jamia campus, and the material has been used cleverly.

Site Plan

The Site Plan, as found at an ArchDaily article

South Side :)The café did seem to bear some references to Mies’ Barcelona Pavilion, and the walls reminded me of the Thermae Vals by Zumthor. The horizontality, the minimalism, and the way the walls, floor, and roof struck out to be clean planar and distinct elements. But, it’s because of the same semi open character the café has that makes it such a nice place to be in. It suits the climate well.

About the architect:

Romi Khosla founded the firm in the 70s, and its earlier work has tones of postmodernism, very clearly evident in some, and subdued in others. The firm has an impressive list of projects, and an even more impressive list of juries/panels that Romi Khosla has been and is a part of. But, this project it seems has been entirely done by Martand Khosla, and so- maybe we could focus more on him here. Having studied at the Architectural Association in London, thirty years after his father, he is one of the foreign educated younger architects we have in the country. And at only around twenty six years of age, with a project that’s one of the smallest you would come across, he’s creating quite a stir. You will find an interview here, and an interesting story on this blog post by Pakistani blogger Ahmad Rafay Alam. Looks like he is also the guy behind the competitions the firm has taken part in recently. I almost forgot- he has a variety of projects to his name (I wonder where he got all the time to complete so many :p) ranging from low cost housing, to residences for the rich. Playgrounds for children, to corporate offices. Mud architecture and steel structures. I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing more such good work.

The buildings gave me the feeling of a resistance that had been put up against the imperfect world outside. They might want you to experience an idealistic place. Isolate you to a certain extant. You can hardly spot windows- and the openings direct your gaze to the sky. Or the grass.. Weed grows in plenty, its a part of the landscape scheme it seems. The highly ordered slit-screen like a jaali has its own charm. Ripe with contrast, and high on detail, the Jaali has always been a fitting characteristic of Indian architecture. As you look out from within the gallery through the slits, you get a filtered view of a beautiful new world.

Other Pictures:

Morning Pic1

Morning Pic2

Pano 3

2 Responses to “The Youth Café & M.F. Hussain Art Gallery”
  1. anshu says:

    luckily, i too got a chance to go here.. the white tones of finishes add to the feel of the place!the architect seems to have done justice to this nice hanging out corner for jamia students 🙂

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