‘Book Building’ belonging to Tara Books is a cultural venture beautifully designed by MOAD, where artists and their artistry take front seat within an atmosphere that allows crafts to bloom freely. The sustainability infused into the architecture is a valuable bonus.
The famous Japanese architect, Yoshio Taniguchi once said, “Architecture is basically a container of something; I hope they enjoy not so much the teacup but the tea.” Keeping such an inspirational philosophy in mind, the multi-disciplinary team at The Madras Office for Architects and Designers (MOAD) created Book Building for Tara Books.
Situated in South Chennai, the commercial multiuse space has been refurbished into a cultural setting set up to house artists and their art forms and varied handmade picture books that truly speak a thousand words.
The team of young and driven architects at MOAD, headed by the founding partner, Mahesh Radhakrishnan, believes in imparting character to architectural designs, which is exactly what one experiences at Book Building.
The blend of an extensive palate of colours, comprehensive graphics, and the intricate detailing at every nook and corner of the building narrates stories of life. From the outside, the building is almost camouflaged as a white box with a sloping, red roof that reveals almost nothing of what awaits inside – which is another dramatic world altogether.
Walking through the Book Building, one experiences the detailing in the architecture to be nothing but liberating, providing a touch of freedom that allows creative thoughts to manifest. MOAD delicately created the ground floor as a showroom cum workshop space that has a dual usage, in order to highlight the underlying narrative of the building that is an amalgamation of several imaginative minds. The magnificent tree mural on the ground floor is the art work of the Gond artist, Bhaiju Shyam that exhibits individuality in an absolute way.
The careful detailing of the grills, commonly known as jallis adds to the design sensibilities of this space. Then there’s perfectly curved spiral staircase which leads to the editorial and design section. An installation of a collage of grill patterns along the way is more than just eye pleasing.
When the shadows of the grills fall on the opposite wall, it compels one to artistically muse, thus fulfilling the intent behind such an extensive use of grills that were used as a security measure in ancient times. Mahesh Radhakrishnan shares, “The use of grills in a vernacular pattern allows for cultural continuity and helps the building to be seated in the local context, which is exactly what we were aiming for – a context friendly building!”
The floor is designed to open out into the double height gallery during events and workshops. The beautiful display on the southern side, a book spread of texts and drawings on handmade pages blends practical approach with a portrayal of absolute finesse.
Tara Books collaborates and offers a dialogue between artists and their artistry. Furthermore MOAD identified each section with clarity, from the meeting and administrative area to the common facilities, like the yellow pantry and washrooms, each section has been outlined precisely to ensure no hindrance is caused in executing the day to day activities.
The residential dormitory intended to house the visiting tribal artists, commonly known as the ‘village’, showcases ‘Meena’ art from published books, allowing the visitors to identify and acknowledge the hub as a celebration of their work. The sloped roof structures with uneven shades of red oxide become a finishing touch to the dormitory.
The work done by MOAD is sustainable in terms of energy use identified with a realistic approach. Chennai is a humid city that requires a proper cross ventilation system to allow natural breezes to flow freely and never settle in one place and this has been aptly put to place in this project.
The Book Building is definitely more about people and craft to express and explore creativity, and the architecture neverthless has offered an ambience to inspire and integrate imaginative visions.
Text By Namrata Joshi
Photographs by Dhivya Ravishankar, Santappa Kaliyan,
Mahesh Radhakrishnan Courtesy The Architects