Being the national capital region, Delhi has always been a prominent cultural centre. An addition to this thriving cultural jamboree was introduction of Dilli Haat by Delhi Tourisum and Transportation Development Corporation at two locations in the city, both a huge success right from the time of inception. The latest is the Dilli Haat at Janakpuri in west Delhi conceptualized by design studio Archohm. The design team was led by Principal architect Sourbh Gupta who gives a brief of the project.
Designing Dilli Haat was a challenge to relish, because of the huge popularity of the enterprise. It was a competition entry called by Delhi tourism. The project comprises two adjacent sites, which are a part of a huge green belt. Dilli Haat occupies the larger six acre site whereas the smaller site has a proposal for a youth hostel or hotel and parking facilities. The site is located in the densely populated residential area and is very well connected by public transport. It was a great opportunity to develop the haat in West Delhi, as it was a chance to create another nucleus around which cultural life in Delhi could thrive. At the same time, it was a challenge to retain or replenish the green cover, while taking up extensive building work.
Outdoor shops with roofing canopies and craft shops to hold artisans workshops are integral to the dilli haat theme. Air-conditioned shops were added to make it a more viable shopping experience. There is also a children’s play area tucked into a small green patch. The food court with basement parking facilities ties it all together to sustain as an enterprise. Like a wellcrafted movie, the strength of this project is that the plot is strong and the basic idea is immersed well in every aspect extensively.
The site plan is knit together efficiently. Free flowing open spaces bind various activities on two levels. The main pedestrian and vehicular entries are from a busy street. There is a separate service entry and a couple of special entry points. A large open space takes the visitor through a frisking area to another pocket that leads to the huge central plaza formed by meandering air-conditioned shops and the exposition halls. One can also take the open pedestrian ramp to reach the terrace lined by canopy shops.
From the frisking area, there are direct access points to the café, surface and basement parking and banquet greens. The central plaza culminates to the auditorium and the craft shop clusters located at the rear end enable the visitor to walk through the entire haat. Another frisking area is located near these clusters since there is a strong possibility of craft shops to become the predominant function.
A state of the art auditorium with 800 seating capacity also forms an amphitheater on top that can hold an audience of 820 people. The green and paved amphitheater instantly reduces the huge mass of the auditorium and at the same time helps retain the green cover, helping in heat control.
The four 8km high towers are interspersed along the site. Designed to look like huge bamboo baskets, they are two storied buildings with a roof top canopy designed for outdoor activities. Closer to the entry, one basket houses the information centre, while the other forms a café. Wander more into the interiors of the site and the baskets house a music centre and a museum. The music centre will not just avail sale of all genres of rare classics, musical instruments but provides ample outdoor space and a small amphitheatre to take care of interactive functions.
The exposition halls are three linear vaults of ascending widths in plan, forming one large space that can be divided into three as required. Colorful flowering creepers that soften the scale and help temperature control further cover the steel sheeting on top. The food court houses 48 stalls from different places and celebrate the taste of India. The two storied airconditioned space is well supported with individual service courts for every stall, in turn opening into a larger service yard connected with separate access.The front wall of the food court, visible from the main access road holds the huge signage keeping those interested updated on the happening inside is sure to change the skyline of the street forever.