Haat can be loosely explained as a marketplace for all, which is a platform built for rural and small-town artisans to retail their handicrafts and products, which they make with their impeccable skillsets, directly to the buyers. One massive advantage of this typology of the building is it avails the seller (who are mostly a small-scale scaler) to earn profit out of their hard work, precisely what they deserve for their goods, with no interference of any middleman, hence no means of any swindle in the process.
West Delhi is an exciting mosaic of urban architecture, with the largest prison complex in South Asia, a century-old cantonment and densely populated residential areas. There are limited recreational areas and public space here, except markets, district parks, open spaces in commercial districts, and new shopping malls. Dilli Haat is a joint venture between Delhi Tourism and the New Delhi Municipality. It offers the atmosphere of a traditional village market but for contemporary needs. It combines and balances out Delhi’s cultural, culinary, and craft activities all at one place.
With all this research and background information, the initiation of this urban space began with “Haat Beat’, an open design competition entry in 2005, organised by the Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation (DTTDC). Entries from all over were invited for a Haat in Janakpuri.
The site offered for the competition was a big six-acre northwest-facing contiguous chunk that eventually turned southeast. The site is bounded on one side by the main bus terminal, on the other by the Tihar jail (a national prison), and on the front by a big commercial boulevard. The complex will have two entrances: a main face with automotive and pedestrian zones and a secondary rear entry into the craft-only zone for pedestrians.
With two Dilli Haats already in the city, one questioned the design components on several levels as a design philosophy. Fundamentally, all Dilli Haats must have a common foundation for connecting craftspeople with city dwellers. All of these haats require their own identity to attract people not only from their immediate neighbourhood but from the entire city. It was also necessary to consider how the vocabulary and images of these haats evolved. They could not be imitations of past haats or imitations of city villages. They had to be progressive, in sync with the times, while honouring the project’s craft and cultural centricity. As a result, the design solution is a dialogue between the past and the present, an appreciation of the traditional and its adaptation in contemporary times, both in concept and construction.
The program’s conception requires as much design intervention as its physical manifestation. The final functionality discovered an indoor, well-equipped, 800-capacity auditorium for formal concerts and an informal similar capacity open-air amphitheatre that works with independent spaces and support services. It is intended to build a versatile, multi-scaled exposition hall for exhibitions and conferences. A music museum, a music store, a music workshop space, and tourism offices and cafes are housed in a series of four baskets.
A big, air-conditioned food mall spreads into shaded courtyards and broad greens for the essential demand of spillovers. Formal, informal, and open retail areas are constructed to incorporate the delicate modifications of malls, markets, and bazaars into this haat. To support the business concept of this complicated cultural complex, an independent fine dining establishment with extended banquet facilities is established.
To make the haat program functionally viable, it was decided to give the centre a musical theme after considering all of the requirements. While conducting the research, it became clear that there isn’t a single facility devoted to music, and the idea of the “haat beat” quickly gained popularity. A state-of-the-art auditorium that can accommodate sizable musical performances, an amphitheatre, a music centre for the sale and display of musical instruments, and welcoming raucous gatherings of aspiring musicians and music lovers.
The Dilli haat theme includes outdoor stores with rooves and craft stores to house artisans’ workshops. To make shopping more enjoyable, air-conditioned stores were added. In a tiny patch of greenery, there is a children’s play area as well. The food court and underground parking facilities tie everything together to keep the business afloat. Like that of a well-made movie, this project’s strength comes from the solid plot and thorough integration of the central idea throughout the various aspects. The site plan flows together smoothly. Different activities are bound by open, free spaces on two different levels. Both pedestrians and vehicles use the primary street entrances. There are a few unique entry points and a separate service entry.
The exhibition halls consist of three ascending-width linear vaults that form one large space that can be divided into three as needed. The top steel sheeting is further covered by colourful flowering creepers that help regulate temperature and soften the scale. The food court will have 48 stalls from various locations and honour the flavours of India. Every stall has its service court, which opens into a larger service yard and is connected by a separate entrance, supporting the two stories of the air-conditioned space well.
On top of the modern auditorium with 800 seats is an amphitheatre with room for 820 spectators. The paved and green amphitheatre simultaneously helps to maintain the green cover, which aids in heat control and instantly reduces the enormous mass of the auditorium.