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Client: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust

Year: 2014-2019

Location: Pondicherry

Site Area: 110 m²

Built Up Area: 205 m²

Type: Boutique Showroom

Team: Mona Doctor-Pingel, Melina Wiedera, Ana Antunes, Prakash Raj, Chandana Reddy

Structure: Ramaradjou

Contractor: Mohan Constructions

Photo Credits: Sashwat Parhi

Drone Photos: Prabuddha Patro

Cottage Showroom was designed and built for the Udyog trust of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. It is located in Pondicherry, on a corner plot on the main canal street that once divided the old French quarter and the old Tamil quarter. The clients came to us to renovate a small existing showroom in this busy street. We encouraged the clients to relocate the building to a corner plot replacing the existing toilet blocks, to increase footfall and sales and also enliven the streets.

This building is an outlet of the Cottage Industries which has been running since 1949. It sells handmade incense sticks, candles, mats, body care and other handcrafted items. As the name suggests, they try to maintain a natural ambience and simple style of working, avoiding as far as possible an industrialized approach to manufacturing. They utilize recycled materials and integrate nature-friendly methods.

The project was conceived to be a place with a modern establishment yet retaining the old world charm within an urban context. The exposed RCC structure with mud plastered walls creates a sense of charm. The building has two perpendicular walls facing both the streets, made of glass which turns the entire showroom ino a display. The vertical steel shutters are designes in continuity with the facade cottage restaurant on the same street.

These shutters are designed using a counter weight system and are easily operable by a single person. They filter the light entering the building creating different patterns on the walls throughout the day. They provide visibility and security during day and night for the double storey glass facade while also adding to the overall aesthetic value of the building.

All the fixtures and facade elements are made by local fabricators in Auroville workshops, requiring a lot of innovation and adaptation without using industrialized methods. The entire ensemble of glass facade with Munni blue color mild steel shutters enhances the modern element in the building.

The corner of the plot is kept free making a smooth gesture to the corner of the two busy roads which acts as a pause point before entering the showroom. The two storey structure responds better to the existing density of the street junction with a corner office space overlooking the main cross roads.


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