Koodaaram: The Pavilion At Cabral Yard

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) is the largest contemporary art festival in Asia, held once every two years, in abandoned factories and warehouses repurposed as galleries and cafes, in Fort Kochi-Mattancherry, in Kerala, South India. Every biennale, a pavilion is constructed to host performance and cinematic art at Cabral Yard, a one acre campus full of large canopied trees in the heart of Fort Kochi.

In KMB 2018, the curator Anita Dube commissioned Anagram Architects to design the Biennale Pavilion. In turn, Anagram Architects collaborated with B L Manjunath for structural design and Studio Wood for furniture design.

Anagram Architects

Unlike the other Fort Kochi Biennale venues, Cabral Yard carries no architectural vestiges of its past. It follows a cycle of natural rejuvenation during its dormancy between biennales. It is simultaneously a gated precinct of profuse verdancy and an important hub for convening people, the beating social heart of a bustling biennale.

Anagram Architects

It is a venue for art, as a process, an event or an incident, with people. In order to explore the curatorial vision for KMB2018, the architects deconstruct “the pavilion within the yard”. Unpacking its architecture and programme to occupy the whole one acre site, the entire Cabral Yard is activated to perform as a island-hub for art with people.

Anagram Architects

Koodaaram or tent in Malayalam is a half -opaque, half transparent, half buried performance space for about 420 people. The design references the Koothaambalam, a traditional Kerala temple adjunct used for ritual performances, similarly modulating plinth, trellis and canopy.

Anagram Architects

However, it explores the possibility of diffusing its opacity and weight while infusing it with light and accessibility. By making Cabral Yard an open people’s pavilion, the design counter argues traditional exclusivities associated with performative spaces through openness, transparency, lightness, temporariness and accessibility. Koodaaram is thus suggests a counterpoint to the Koothaamablam.

Anagram Architects

The design also seeks transience through lightness. The structures are designed to sit “lightly” on the site. Built in a record time of two months, the pavilion is designed to completely dismantle into components salvageable for reuse, leaving the site largely unmarked, to allow for its rewilding over the coming two years.

Monolithic buildings induce distance from the natural and the social. The pavilion is deconstructed to reveal through its porosities, programmatic flexibilities and skeletality, the (un-) making of a monolith. The intent is to widen experiences of architectural coalescence, both material and programmatic. Walls and ground fluidly morph and, similarly, canopy and foliage merge to create opportunities for spontaneous and social spectacles, encounters and conversations.

Project Details

Name: KOODAARAM: the Kochi-Muziris Biennale
2018-19 Pavilion
Client Name: Kochi Biennale Foundation Location: Cabral Yard, Fort Kochi, Kerala Architect: Anagram Architects
Design Team: Madhav Raman, Vaibhav Dimri, Khyati Kohli, Abhishek Semwal, Narkant Negi
Collaborators: Structural Design: B L Manjunath | Furniture Design: Studio Wood
site Area: 5,000 sq m
Materials: Steel, Bamboo, Composite cement board panel, Cement pavers and Polycarbonate sheet
Completion of Project: December 2018

About Khyati Kohli

Associate Architect, Anagram Architects, Delhi

Anagram Architects

Khyati Kohli joined Anagram Architects as a senior architect in January 2011. Today, with over 10 years of professional experience, she oversees planning, design and execution over a wide range of civic, commercial, educational, residential and urban design projects in various parts of India. She won the Shared Runner Up Award in the Excellence–Public Building category at WADE ASIA 2019.

*Winning Project: Excellence-Public Building

*Photo Credit: Suryan/Dang


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