Art Gallery

Posted on: March 27th, 2015 by wp-indigo


Posted on: March 20th, 2015 by wp-indigo

Shrujan is a non-governmental organization working in the field of women’s self employment programs through the revival and development of traditional embroidery crafts since 1969, based in Kutch region of Gujarat State in Western India.

The Shrujan campus is situated in Bhujodi, 10 kms from the city of Bhuj in Kutch. In contrast to the arid desert vegetation around, one encounters a well tended orchard with varied fruit trees reminiscent of the ‘wadis’ or the orchards in the south-western region of Kutch.

The program incorporates an expressive public face with its main retail store, visitor’s lounge, an exhibition gallery, as well as internal workshop areas, textile design cell, offices, textile conservation cell, auditorium space and residential quarters. The client brief demanded a sustainable architectural response taking into account seismic stability and the harsh desert climate. The flagship store for its products was to be incorporated in an attempt to create a new face for Shrujan and provide a marketing platform for its wholesale international clientele.

“A need to reassert the unique cultural milieu and the resilient spirit of the Kutchhi people in the wake of a devastating natural calamity provided the underlying sub-text for the project.”

The architecture responds to the broad physical context of the region. It attempts to evoke the desert archetype through a vocabulary of massive, continuous shielding ochre coloured walls, controlled openings, the deeply shaded courtyard, and the wind towers. The two overriding features of the plan are the inward looking courtyard and the enclosing walls with the wind towers on the south and the west.

The protective walled enclosures on the heat gain side, contrast with this open courtyard that coalesces views and movement in its shaded precincts.

Workshop areas which require even daylight open towards the court with large continuous bay windows towards the north. Circulation is both through and around the court. The courtyard also offers a dynamic release of space at the corner on a diagonal axis to the main entrance. The entrance is signified by tiered plinths and a short flight of steps to access the retail store. A ramped corridor links the entrance to the visitor lounge, the workshops and the café, on the ground level. Space is modulated in its proportions as one moves through the building, providing vignettes of the courtyard and the sky. The resultant architectural form is a layering of contrasting elements.

Light in all its modulations was a constant concern, brought in through recessed openings and bounced off of gently curving or sloping roof profiles.

The sense of contrast is carried into the choice of materials and textures within the building. Rough pebblecrete of the copings and the plinth contrast with the ochre painted walls. All exterior areas are paved in exposed brick, and rough kotah stone continuing into the courtyard. The courtyard is designed as a multifunctional space, capable of informal congregations as well as quiet moments of repose for an individual.

Harnessing the prevailing breezes and shielding the work areas from the harsh light and heat were essential to the organization of the plan. The principal idea of wind catchers oriented towards the south and west directions create a passive cooling mechanism that works for all the major spaces. Small exhausts mounted in the circular barrel openings on opposite walls induce the required air changes for comfort.

The wind scoops were designed to also act as structural anchors for the building, capable of taking lateral forces and counter seismic movement. The architectural program required the spaces to flow continuously around the central north facing courtyard.

The structural resolution came about by way of expansion joints starting above the grade slab level, separating the building into four zones.

The building is designed as a combination of moment resisting frames and shear walls in RCC and brick masonry and was detailed as per code provisions outlined in IS 13920-1993 for ductility and seismic resistance.

A three chambered rain water harvesting tank was built in the main courtyard capable of storing unto 100,000 litres of rain water, channelled through a carefully worked out system. This tank is connected to another tank which stores water from the bore well. Recharge wells located in the parking area and in the lower courtyard prevent runoff.

Shrujan is an attempt to weave together holistic concerns of the site, context and the program to define an architecture that heralds a contemporary idiom even as it is inextricably rooted in its local sensibilities.

Emerging to an altered reality, from the destruction in Kutch, it seeks to reinstate and reassert the vigour of an institution on which basic sustenance of village artisans rests.

Ajrakh Studio

Posted on: January 20th, 2018 by wp-indigo

THE Physical Context of Kutch, India

The region of Kutch is located on the westernmost edge of the Indian peninsula. Its western and southern edges touch the Arabian Sea, while its northern edge extends into the Thar Desert and salt plains. A part of the eastern edge bordering the state of Gujarat forms the area known as the Little Rann of Kutch (the small desert). Physically isolated from the mainland for several centuries, the region bears cultural and geographical similarities with parts of the Thar Desert and Sindh, part of present-day Pakistan.

The history of human habitation in Kutch goes back 30,000 years and many archaeological sites of the Indus valley and Harappa civilization (330-2600 B.CE) are located here. Once a river-fed region, Kutch became arid scrubland following cataclysmic seismic and climate events that led to the decline of the Harappa sites.

Our site, Ajrakhpur, has a hot desert type of climate with temperatures ranging from 5 degrees Celsius in winter to summer temperatures of 45 degrees. It has very strong westerly winds and dust storms in the summers. The soil is brackish with a high content of Bentonite clay, which makes it impervious to water. This region falls within seismic zone 5, prone not just to earthquakes but also cyclones due to its proximity to the Arabian Sea.


Kutch owes its distinctive ecology to the swathes of salt plains that dry up after the monsoon into a salt desert and allow for very few biological species to survive. The region’s vulnerability to natural disasters over time, such as earthquakes and cyclones, is indicated by its diverse geology. The most recent such instance occurred in 2001 when an earthquake destroyed about 348,000 dwellings and claimed nearly 26,000 lives.

Apart from the populated main towns of Bhuj in the centre and Mandvi to the south, a vast area is still sparsely populated, forming a distinctive collection of several communities that have migrated from central Asia to the Thar desert and subsequently crossed into Kutch.

In contrast to the north, the long coastline towards the Arabian sea allowed for a thriving maritime trade with East Africa as well as through land routes to Europe. Most trades were in cotton fabric, textiles with indigo dye—remnants of which were traced back to Egypt and Babylon dating back to 800 CE which continued till the 17th CE.


The dry, remote landscape of the Kutch is animated by an exceptional diversity of textile crafts practiced by its various communities: block-printed, coarse cotton cloth found its way to parts of Africa and Persia over land and sea. Distinctive styles of textile craftsmanship such as famous tie-and-dye fabrics and cloth embroidery emerged in the face of limited resources, a sensibility that pervades the lifestyles of Kutch’s native communities.


Ajrakh is one of the oldest styles of hand block printing on textiles, dating back 4,500 years, which continues to be practiced in parts of Kutch, areas in the desert of Rajasthan in India, and the Sindh province of Pakistan.

The word ‘Ajrakh’ has many myths and interpretations. It is derived from the word ‘Azarukh’ which means the colour ‘blue’ in Arabic and Persian. The predominant blue represents the universe or the dark sky of the desert, while the red is representative of its twilight. The night is represented as black. The white motifs spread throughout the printed fabric are the stars in the night sky. Ajrakh is traditionally worn by the male nomadic pastoralists of the region as a turban, a waistcloth, or a scarf.

It is printed on both sides with the print matching exactly with the same depth of colour. This requires extraordinary skill to achieve and the process can take about 16 stages of alternate application of resists, dyes, and mordants with multiple cycles of washing and drying of the fabric. The art of making Ajrakh is a laborious process and takes three to four weeks to finish one fabric. After the process, the indigenous natural dyes become impregnated into the fabric to become colourfast.

Ajrakh craft has been practiced in Kutch by a community of Muslim craftspeople known as ‘Khatri’. The Khatri community originated in the Sindh, now Pakistan and migrated to Kutch around the 17th century, CE. The village of Dhamadka, where the community settled, was the most renowned place for Ajrakh craft, owing to the two perennial flowing rivers vital for washing the fabric. The Khatris flourished here, making printed fabric for local as well as for urban markets.

Yet around the mid-1990s, some printers had realized a need to move from Dhamadka since the rivers had dried up and made it difficult to practice their craft. Bore wells were dug deep to extract water but the water quality was found unsuitable for use due to high ferrous content.

Following the earthquake of 2001, which extensively damaged the settlement, including the printing sheds and workspaces, the situation for the community had become untenable. Subsequently, a 50-acre parcel of land near Dhamadka village was found suitable for its re-settlement. They called this new settlement, ‘Ajrakhpur’, where ‘pur’ meant a small town for Ajrakh.

Using their own money due to lack of government support, the printers bought land parcels in multiples of 200 sq. mt apiece. Jamiyat Ulema-e-Hind, a leading organisation of Islamic scholars helped construct the first 112 dwellings while the Vivekananda Research & Training Institute, Mandvi (VRTI) built 74 workshops each measuring 20’x20’ and all this, at a nominal cost to the families. Community resources were pooled together to build a mosque, madrasa, primary school, and a community hall along with basic infrastructure for this new settlement.

In contrast to the organic accretive settlements seen in the region, Ajrakhpur was a modern organised grid layout, akin to the new plotted developments of our times. Its character, open to being shaped was amorphous at the edges as it touched the agrarian borders of nearby fields.


The effort to establish and lead the community was spearheaded by Ismail Khatri. Ismailbhai, as he is known, belonged to one of the most famous Khatri artisan families, pioneers in the revival of natural dyes into the process, and an unbroken lineage of artisans extending 10 generations of Ajrakh printers. His skill as an artisan, coupled with a progressive vision for the community has made him the village headman. He was the first person from the community to learn spoken English to be able to communicate with visitors from urban areas and textile enthusiasts from around the world.

Before the late 1970s, there had been no contact of printers to the outside world, directly. Ismailbhai took upon himself to present the intricacies of the craft and allowed visitors to become familiar with its unique processes.

Starting from the 1980s he personally oriented visitors to the processes and the history of Ajrakh. Owing to his magnanimity, the visitors, textile experts, students, designers, and tourists spread the word of Ajrakh to the world. This effort continued till 2017 when he was unable to meet up with the daily visits of fifty or more people to the humble one-room shop adjacent to his printing shed. The years following the quake saw huge interest and outpouring of support for the artisan communities of Kutch. Artisans from Ajrakhpur, led by Ismailbhai and his clan, travelled worldwide disseminating their knowledge of printing with natural dyes and inviting designers, institutional heads and textile scholars to Ajrakhpur.

Ajrakh Studio – The idea of ‘place’ within the community.

We had met Ismailbhai just after the earthquake of 2001 working with village groups on documentation, damage assessment, and rebuilding strategies. Our association deepened through these interactions and has continued ever since. On frequent visits to his workplace thereafter, our conversations would often touch upon the question of how best to create a space for the advancement of the craft, culminating in the creation of ‘Ajrakh Studio’.

The project was thus, inspired by programmatic reasoning, which branched three ways: showcasing and explaining the history, processes and contextual intricacies of the Ajrakh tradition. Equally vital was the need to provide exposure to the craft while creating a space that allowed for reinvention, experimentation and the development of newer designs and techniques.

The Ajrakh printing process owes much, visually and technically, to an understanding of the material chemistry of lime. We sought to revive the use of the material not only to address the resilience of the building but also generate the possibilities of lime plaster as an expressive surface that complimented the Ajrakh craft.

Values of frugality, the integration of sustainable natural processes, respect for water and thermal comfort were at the core of all building endeavors in the project. A public space for the community, yet one which could also retract into a personal space for the family, the use of the studio would extend into instances of community Eid prayers, name-giving ceremonies for newborns, and entertaining fellow craftspeople from distant towns.


The site was adjacent to the family home of Ismail Khatri, located in the northeast corner of the settlement fronting a large central open space to the west. The new plan was proposed on the footprint of the old. An older printing shed and a processing wood stove were all that stood on the site alongside a Neem tree.


The plan organization purposefully draws from the vernacular dwelling typology of parallel common walls perpendicular to the street seen in the older settlement of Dhamadka village. It essentially comprised two enclosed volumes, one defining the public entry and a personal family space at the back, separated by an open courtyard. The court becomes a climatic device, a social space and the functional core of the house. The moorings of this plan are deeply cultural alluding to the center as a void. The project for the Ajrakh studio provided an opportunity to reinterpret this archetype in terms of the formal and the programmatic.

The strategy was to work with two volumes oriented NS lengthwise with single inclined roofs on the shorter sides defining a court. The two short ends hold the services. It is a compact building designed to occupy the periphery, shut like a box and leaving out its centre, open to the sky above. The court buffers the public functions from the focused inner workspace and also becomes an informal place to socially congregate while providing a processing space for drying fabrics. Each space has the potential to bleed into the other thereby creating an informal functional core allowing for all the processes of the craft to habit in an arena of intense activity.

The nature of space in the studio is multivalent and contiguous: as an exhibition space, as an audio-visual area, that can be screened off internally by bamboo chick screens for demonstrations of certain printing processes and congregation.

The first volume holds the public interface comprising the entry, a small office/studio space, a retail shop and a large hall for public meetings, viewing films on the craft and discussions. The second volume across the court is the printing workshop flanked by a storage area and the wood-fired stove and wash area for dyed yardage. An apparent external opacity of the form reveals a porous interiority along the east-west axis.

The design embeds three strategies for making the building resilient and thermally efficient as a space to habit and work.

Preventing the building from gaining heat: The plan orientation, segregation of service functions and storage walls along the west and south, provide the desired heat buffer.

Light and its modulation ensure its quality and quantum in the studio, guided through carefully crafted wooden louvered openings and deeply shaded roofs to cut out glare. The sky component is controlled, while effectively allowing breeze to flow through the spaces. Operable fenestrations at the roof level provide exit of hot air depending on the season and for breezes to tunnel across during the night providing nighttime cooling. There is no use of glass in the fenestrations.

Appropriate building method: Owing to its presence in a zone of high seismic activity, a confined masonry system with 230 mm brick and minimally reinforced concrete columns and slabs meet the code criteria while being very economical to construct. Locally sourced, lime and fly ash bricks, along with lime, sand and waste brick-dust was used, for a faster set and stability. Off-the-shelf galvalume roofing sheets with under-deck insulation, using waste packaging material and wood particle boarding provided the soffit. All external and internal stucco was done using two coats of lime, sand and brick dust with two coats of dolomite fine plaster as the finishing coat. A local yellow ochre mineral pigment from Khavda in Kutch was added to give a vibrant ochre colour. The plaster’s higher emissivity ensures better expulsion of heat to the infrared spectrum, thereby draining heat effectively into the night sky. The use of mild steel and bamboo in the trellis structure on the western terrace for drying dyed fabric acts as an occasional shading device for the roof below echoes the traditional method of drying fabric, prevalent even today. Recycled timber was procured for use in all woodwork and the furniture was repurposed and reused from old scrap yards.

Draining the heat from the structure using stored rainwater: The printing shed also houses a 55 thousand litre rainwater-harvesting tank below its plinth.

Intermittent pumping of stored cool water through the floor slabs ensures a stable temperature for working indoors in the harsh summers without evaporative loss of precious rainwater, which is used for drinking and certain special washing processes.


The construction site for the studio was a matter of great curiosity for the community after the project started; While it seemed familiar as a built form alluding to the vernacular, it addressed a contemporary need exhibiting the known and functional, in a crisp new light.

It demonstrated several meaningful strategies that were essential for resilience, comfort and livability in this harsh context. Frequent visits by the residents of the village ended up in discussions on these elements and their outcome as a reference point for the new buildings to emerge within the community.

Playfully, the lime plaster artisans and local Ajrakh printers engaged over several sessions, mixing indigo, madder, alum, local mineral pigments and oxides to generate tones for the fine dolomite internal finishes. In an amazing experiment, block prints were made with indigo on wet dolomite lime-plaster on one of the print shop walls; a set of block patterns imprinted for posterity.

The Ajrakh studio opened quietly one summer evening after Ramadan in 2018, by inviting the children of the community for a meal. Since it’s opening, the studio has had an average of 50 to 60 walk-in visitors per day in the tourist season during winter and annually about 7000.

The audio visual space along with the fabric sample wall have proven to be very effective in tandem with the video on the craft and is a huge draw with visitors. Ismailbhai is pleased that the sales from his small store help pay for the maintenance of his studio and support his endeavor to develop new blocks and plan new initiatives to further the craft.

The children from the family and their friends relate to these spaces warmly, and are seen prancing freely through them, watching the practice of the craft, engaging in small tasks at will.

The studio is now the metaphorical ‘village plinth’. A physical landmark in the village for matters related to the crafts and the community. It has influenced other artisans to open small shops within their compounds to showcase and sell their goods. Wholesale buyers from various national and international design stables come and procure material in Ajrakhpur, resulting in greater exposure for the young, upcoming artisans in the community and ensuring their economic sustenance.

Issues of identity, place, craft, community, expression, dissemination and sustenance come into focus here, defining new frames of reference.

Natarani amphitheatre

Posted on: November 20th, 2018 by wp-indigo

The Sabarmati riverfront development project in Ahmedabad, impacted the existing Natarani theatre precinct. A major chunk of the stage area was lost to the riverfront edge road and sidewalk, rendering the theatre inoperable for several years.

It is in the context of this reality that its renovation was both imperative and desired for its activities to flourish. The new proposed layout not only attempts to mitigate this situation, but also reimagines Natarani theatre to improve upon its existing infrastructure and capacity.

A state of the art amphitheatre, accessible green rooms, utility spaces, improved sound and lighting capabilities with a catwalk over the seating were, the main programmatic components of the project. A mandate from our client, Mallika Sarabhai to use every possible strategy to be sustainable, helped anchor the new design.

The backdrop: The rebuilding of the new theatre was on the site of the older amphitheater, built in 1994 by Ar. Kirti Shah and the new acoustic wall by the firm Abhikram in 2017. Critical to our new intervention was the adjacency of a small library built in 1963 by Ar. B V Doshi and the Darpana building built in 1968, by Ar. A.P Kanvinde used currently as a dance school. The edge to the river front road along the site was built out as a retaining structure by HCP Ahmedabad, to house the Mrinalini Sarabhai Gallery in line with the acoustic wall. An intentional gap between the two elements along the river edge opened up possibilities for us to re- establish the lost connection to the river.

Architectural strategy: The proximity of the existing modern era buildings in exposed brick and concrete, as well as the new acoustic wall inspired the warp and weft of the new theatre. The architecture sought to express continuity with the older materials through the use of exposed lime bricks, recycled from the debris of the demolished older structures, including the library that was in state of disrepair.

Fanning out the existing layout increased the theatre capacity. The natural contour provided the necessary depth below the cascading tiers to house the green rooms and utilities including the infrastructure for air circulation and cooling. The cross section of the tiered theatre culminates at the stage with its huge water harvesting tank below and the towering scale of the acoustical wall as its backdrop.

Juxtaposed with the solidity of the brick mass around, the curved metal cable stayed catwalk hovers high over the seating space expressing a nimble lightness. The metal work defines its own purpose of making, to provide the necessary flexibility for new age performances and state of the art lighting and sound. This tension between contradicting elements defines its own idiom as a performance space. The scale of the entry and the back wall close to the Darpana building is modulated to adequately enclose the theatre.

The earthy seating tiers are expressed through the use of traditional china mosaic, using terracota coloured ceramic tiles, interspearsed with the dark charcoal grey of the lime plastered walls. These two colours have been emblematic of the older Natarani as well. The grey of the exposed concrete copings and the edges is extended through the grey pebblecrete in high wear thresholds and stepped edges. All metalwork is charcoal black which essentially gets negated at night, during performances. The physicality and scale of the theatre reverses dramatically at night with enhanced lighting and a sharp central spatial focus. The stage is built with a hard wood assembly flooring, while the entrance plaza is defined by rough grey kota stone slabs that unites the semiopen and open areas of adjacent buildings, which use similar materials.

Passive thermal comfort and design strategies

The design integrates several strategies to be cost effective and sustainable. Preventing the building from gaining heat was an important design objective and all services and green rooms are located below the theatre steps. Lime is used in construction along with dolomite plaster to provide the necessary thermal advantage and longevity. The building is designed on the principle of ‘thermal draining of the structure’. A rainwater-harvesting tank below the stage, with a capacity of 1.0 lac liters collects all the water from the steps to become a cool thermal storage mass, below ground. A pump sends it to a higher level where it is cooled by a natural process. The cooled water then comes down by gravity through the pipes under the seating tiers and empties into the tank in the process absorbing the solar heat from the entire structure, thus keeping it cool and comfortable. Additional comfort is provided by the “Displacement Ventilation” system that provides a gentle flow of cool filtered air from several small outlets distributed along the seating tiers. They form a blanket of cool air in the seating zone by displacing the warm stale air.


Posted on: March 20th, 2015 by wp-indigo

Living & Learning Design Center- Ajrakhpur, Kutch

The idea for establishing an institution of this nature emerged soon after the earthquake of 2001. The wide spread after effects of the quake were varied. First, the physical impact that destroyed the built habitat across the region resulting in the loss of human lives, and means of livelihood. The second, as is usual, once a natural calamity has passed – an extraordinary pouring in of help – monetary, emotive, genuine and also otherwise. The tax sops offered to industry by the government to set up shop almost immediately started to change the landscape. The indigeneity was under a serious threat. Native artistic skills were being lost to jobs offered by industry. A dangerous trend that had begun to take shape slowly, ensuring that an entire generation and its skill set would be lost.
In the wake of this disaster, Shrujan, an NGO based in Kutch led by Chanda Shroff, led the initiative to restore the livelihood of the people. They intervened at several levels, building temporary shelters and workspaces for women to go to and work. A belief, that it was only work, that would help them eventually lift their spirit and take pride in their enterprise.

LLDC – The Living & Learning Design Center

The living and learning design Center (LLDC) was conceived as a project during this time. It was meant to be a ‘place’ that would becomes a tactile and visual repository of the various crafts of Kutch. Its primary role as a resource center for artisans doubles up as a public museum and place for demonstrative, hands on learning.
The predominantly hot, dry and arid landscape of Kutch, its people and cultural nuances formed a rich backdrop to our intervention. There has been a tendency to preserve, emulate and replicate the notion of what may be deemed vernacular, in this case Kuttchi. (Or visually seen as belonging to Kutch)
Our interactions with the artisans, their craft and their aspirations led us to believe that inspite of being geographically remote, their vision and outreach had gone beyond the boundaries of the region. The milieu allowed for a wider exploration of the built.
Their pioneering spirit was an inspiration to create a contemporary environment that reflected their artistic, frugal and industrious attitude.

Design strategy: The site for the LLDC (Living & Learning Design Center) is located in Paddhar village, about 18kms from Bhuj. The 8 acre parcel of land with well-planted mango, chickoo and coconut palm trees. There was also a large patch of land that was non-arable due to the presence of sub soil water, a unique characteristic of the site.

The overall master plan has three main components: the museum, the crafts school and the residential enclaves. The museum block was part of the first phase of work on site. Its strict guidelines for conservation and preservation of textiles meant that the building had to be inherently thermally stable so as to rely less on artificial means of conditioning. This concern was followed right through the design of the buildings and became the core of the building design strategy.

The architecture of the museum block is a series of large solid volumes, punctuated by conidial skylights that cut out the elements and the dust. Along with this core, are the ancillary passageways and shaded spaces for craft demonstrations and impromptu workshops that attach to the core as porous appendages, allowing spontaneous and simultaneous experiences.

This archetype for a museum seeks to establish the primacy of place making over, manneristic form making prevalent in public architecture today. A museum, in this context, is thus a “ place” to experience, move through and habit in an informal way, making language and information more tactile than textual in nature.
The vocabulary is purposefully simple and contemporary in nature, emblematic of the nature of craft as industry and vice- versa today.

Sustainability issues and solutions: Economy of means and materials were to be the backbone of this endeavor. Judicious use of materials and sustainable design strategies aimed at thermal comfort were developed and integrated in the design of the campus.

Thermal barriers: Lime and fly ash bricks were manufactured on site using waste carbide lime slurry, sand and fly ash to reduce cost and get the required strength and thermal stability compared to any other material. Lime mortar was prepared on site by slaking lime in large ponds and grinding it with sand and crushed brick. Gauged lime mortar was used in the masonry work and natural lime plaster using traditional methods* was used in three coats in some areas.

Fenestrations: Meticulously details windows and cutouts on the west and south allow the winter sun to warm the interiors while keeping out the summer sun. A simple strategy to ensure ventilation without affecting thermal gain.

Stored rainwater cools the structure: Rainwater harvesting tanks were integrated in the design of the foundations to collect about 7 lac liters of rain annually. The building plan attempts to reduce thermal gain and creates shaded zones that are inherently cool and can depend on passive cooling to reduce operating costs. Use of cooling pipes (radiant cooling) on terraces is planned as a way of insulating the roof from the heat, to attain stable temperatures throughout the year.

Grey water usage: Decentralized wastewater treatment system (DEWATS) is designed to handle all the wastewater from the site including the process effluents from the printing and dyeing workshops.

Program details and buildings: The museum comprises of four galleries including a temporary exhibit area. The main gallery is devoted to the permanent collection of the ‘Design Center on Wheels’ (DCOW) program run by the NGO Shrujan in Bhujodi. The collection includes 1150 exquisite demonstrative embroidery panels that have been painfully documented over the years.
The other galleries house traditional artifacts highlighting the textile arts related to everyday life of the indigenous people of Kutch. The DCOW archive and conservation block within the museum enclave forms its core. A library for visual and textual resources, instructional auditorium space and conference room, classrooms for artisans and public orientation and information kiosks outside the galleries, complete the ensemble.

The Crafts school is the other significant half of the institution. Working spaces for every art and craft of Kutch makes it the single largest living and working craft environment in Kutch. The architectural plan organizes activities along a central movement spine, reminiscent of the covered ‘suq’ or covered markets of other arid desert regions of the world. It creates a climatically appropriate gesture coupled with sustainable methods of building to define these working areas. Complex interweaving of functions brings about interest and diversity of experience.

The crafts shop and museum shops are run by the artisans in training, to develop skills aimed at marketing their craft in the right manner and learning to preserve what is essential to the survival of the craft.

On-site housing for the master craftsmen, artisans, visiting academicians and scholars is the third built component. Integrated along with the work environment, yet separate, the housing is designed as a series of modular courts with dwelling units linked by internal streets. Artisans enjoy living and working in the company of their apprentices and colleagues in an atmosphere of creative synergies, mutual admiration and support. Individuals with diverse cultural and social needs, food habits and patterns of life will be residents here.

Places for common dining, recreation and celebration of social events are an essential component of the plan. Several un-built spaces, planted groves and spaces between buildings become places for interaction, recreation and multiple uses. The three major building components are organized loosely around a generous courtyard that allows people to congregate in large numbers on occasions such as the annual product exhibit fair and even otherwise.