The thread of tradition

At Bhogpur, near Rishikesh in Punjab state, India, the project for a textile production center combines craftsmanship and natural materials in a virtuous, innovative blend, reinterpreting local architecture in a contemporary way

 

Project by Studio Mumbai
Photos Iwan Baan – Article Matteo Vercelloni

 

Ganga Maki Textile Studio, designed by Studio Mumbai in India, at the foot of the Himalayas, is like a small village: four L-shaped volumes around a central courtyard, forming a pentagonal space open at the top. The other buildings are linear, and contain spaces for dining, lodgings for the staff and guests, a gallery with a store and a stall for cows.

Chiaki Maki, the Japanese entrepreneur at the helm of the workshop, learned about the work of Bijoy Jain and Studio Mumbai at an exhibition in Tokyo on the first 20 years of design research of the Indian architecture firm, acclaimed on an international level for its ability to activate innovative and virtuous initiatives to reinterpret traditional construction techniques in a contemporary spirit.

Maki, who already owned a small workshop a few kilometers away from the site, needed larger spaces to expand his particular production systems based on fermentation of indigo dye and the use of natural colors in silk, wool, cotton and linen fabrics, all made by hand with wooden looms passed down from one generation to the next.

Inspired by the crafts tradition embodied in the fabric collection of Ganga Maki Textile Studio, Studio Mumbai – in an overall area of about 1400 square meters, and in a variety of different buildings – has interpreted the essence of the company, synergically combining constructive know-how and techniques connected with the use of natural materials of remarkable expressive force.

“The architecture, its materials, the proportions of the spaces, the type and size of the openings, the quantity of light and ventilation, have all been gauged in tune with the various functions of the buildings,” says Bijoy Jain.

The structures have been made with locally produced brick and lime; the stone and marble come from Rajasthan, the bamboo from Bengal. The craftsmen match the origins of the materials: masons from the zone, specialists in the treatment of lime and bamboo from Bengal, carpenters from Uttar Pradesh.

The main volumes arranged around a courtyard are in brick with a stucco finish, and have floors in dark gray stone. The roofs are made with slabs of concrete, free of asbestos. The adjacent units that contain the work areas have the same type of masonry, while the floors are in smooth lime, the roofs in stone.

Of the four L-shaped volumes bordering the courtyard, the one set aside for Chiaki Maki stands out for certain finishes and construction methods: the structure is composed of bamboo frames coated with a mixture of mud and cow dung. A translucent roof brings light into the space, filtered through a suspended ceiling of bamboo reeds.

Maki’s home and the residences for guests are accessed after the gallery displaying the company’s products. The gallery has a modular wooden roof with slender white marble inserts, projecting different tones of light inside, depending on the time of day.

Every component has been produced precisely for this project, like the custom electrical gear and the bolts of the doors. “The intention of the work,” Bijoy Jain says, “is to accompany the cyclical relationship between work and life, sun and moon, joining past, present and future.”