Sourabh Gupta designed a platform to encourage craftsmen in Uttar Pradesh, India, to promote themselves: a cultural center for artisans that is also a leisure space for locals.
With a rich culture, a legacy of crafts and heritage, Lucknow needed a dedicated platform to encourage its craftsmen and artisans. Also, being the capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh, India, it needed a single platform to help promote the culture of crafts of the entire state and of the Awadh region in particular, in a holistic fashion. Designed by Sourabh Gupta from Studio Archom, Awadh Shilpgram was the answer to these needs and gives craftsmen opportunities to elaborate and share, interact and learn, teach and sell their arts and crafts to people and art lovers without the help of middlemen.
Awadh Shilpgram is a visual and experiential mélange, typically like Indian urban Bazaars. Its program facilitates activities of leisure, recreation and an indulgence in food and socio- cultural celebrations and encourages shopping that supports livelihoods and keeps alive the legacy of arts and crafts. It houses nearly two-hundred craft shops, craft courts for workshops, an amphitheatre, a food court serving cuisine from different states and other supportive facilities.
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.