Delhi, the capital city of India is brimming with landmarks drenched in culture, heritage and prestige. It has an amalgamation of the old and the new world, perfectly juxtaposed together right in the heart of the city. Nestled right between the growing Indian retail art paradigm, is the Delhi Art Gallery. Designed by one of India’s leading architectural firms Morphogenesis, it offers a dynamic experience for all art lovers, which allows them to observe art pieces in a truly authentic gallery-esque environment.

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Delhi Art Gallery by Morphogenesis: An Impressive Retrofit and Adaptive Reuse - Sheet1
Delhi Art Gallery, Claridges_© Dezeen

At Morphogenesis, co-founded by Manit Rastogi and Sonali Rastogi, the design language heavily relies on the climatic and socio-cultural context of the place the design needs to be conceived in. Sustainability, Optimization, Uniqueness and Livability are the four pillars of the firm’s design philosophy and are integral to every project they work on. Sustainability is the basis of all their designs and shapes the future of all their projects.

Morphogenesis embraces that processes are fundamentally in service to the end-user. As a result, to create truly smart spaces, liveability is at the epicentre of the design process. The creators think that architecture, design, and urbanism must respond to the dynamics of urbanization, globalization, and technology. The firm attempts to bridge the gap between tradition and modernity by focusing on the ‘Indian perspective in the global environment.’ One of their key approaches is the belief that natural processes are a continuum that evolves for different paradigms; people and architecture also share this trait.

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Working on a variety of institutional projects, the firm feels that the modern Indian’s concept and perception of an institutional environment have shifted. Space has ceased to exist as a physical reality. Learning is no longer restricted to a single location. Learning is digital in a world driven by the Internet, and our architecture must also reflect this.

The Delhi Art Gallery, located inside Claridges Hotel, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Road, is an attempt to provide a simple venue where the best of contemporary art in India may be purchased, while also positioning itself in the emerging Indian Contemporary Art Retail Paradigm. The architecture of the Gallery aspires to create a new genre of art retail: a peaceful and contemplative retail space amenable to art appreciation in a gallery-like setting for the art collector wishing to invest in these valued assets.

Delhi Art Gallery by Morphogenesis: An Impressive Retrofit and Adaptive Reuse - Sheet2
Fretted-Screen Panels of the Gallery_©Dezeen

The walls are, without a doubt, the most significant design feature in any gallery space. This is the foundation upon which a gallery is built. Morphogenesis has experimented with this key element in a completely new approach. The store was designed to showcase a wide range of art, from high-end solo exhibitions of a few items to large group exhibitions with separated and moveable sections. 

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There are 14 moving panels and three fixed panels in the 950 square foot gallery. This allows the area to convert from six separate rooms to a single enormous one. When there are multiple artists in the mix, each commanding their own space, as well as when there is one large collection that has a specific flow, this transformation is critical. Passers-by get a sight of the action within, including the panels’ repetition and variation, as well as the performance itself.

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Movable Walls of the Gallery_©Dezeen
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Plan showcasing movable walls_©Dezeen

The curator’s feedback was used to determine the heights and spans of the panels to produce lengths and widths that allow for easy setup, display, and circulation throughout the store. These are generated and re-made inside the otherwise flowing environment, allowing for the framing of diverse and unexpected perspectives

Moreover, it enables positioning in such a way that the most viewing space is created. Conversations between the user of the space and the contents that occupy the space are used to create spatial compositions. Each panel provides a display surface that can be as dense or as sparse as the artwork on display requires.

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Shortlisting eventually leads to the creation of deeper spaces to maximise viewing space. In line with the arrangement of the panels and panel dimensions, lighting is easily changeable and variable. The materiality achieves simplicity; the flooring is a gentle grey natural stone, and the dazzling whitewashed backdrop serves as a blank canvas for the works of numerous nationally and globally renowned artists. To produce architecture that is both impactful and does not compete for attention with the artworks, all lines are straight and basic.

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Entrance Foyer to the Gallery_©Dezeen

The entrance space is dominated by a shelf arrangement that is used to showcase catalogues and other periodicals. Through its e-functions of information, data, and publications of each of the artworks, a flat-screen tabletop encourages the tailored, luxury retail atmosphere. The gallery collection, the artist’s education, and information on the art pieces themselves are all displayed on a full wall-sized multi-media projection screen at the entrance façade.

Art Retail must be approached differently than a gallery, to attract premium retail customers as well as those who have not yet been introduced to art. DAG provides a new lexicon in the art retail paradigm that invites encounters and plays with perception; each visitor reads and uses the spaces within the shop separately

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References

Design Pataki. (2016). Morphogenesis: The Delhi Art Gallery. [online] Available at: https://www.designpataki.com/morphogenesis-the-delhi-art-gallery/ [Accessed 29 Aug. 2021].

‌Dezeen. (2009). The Delhi Art Gallery by Morphogenesis. [online] Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2009/12/14/the-delhi-art-gallery-by-morphogenesis/ [Accessed 29 Aug. 2021].

Author

Faria is an architecture student at IGDTUW, Delhi. She feels passionate towards learning and actively looks for new experiences. She believes that the design language should be universally accessible and understood, hence, she strives to uncover hidden dynamics of design by shifting the language from visual to verbal.

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