Studio Lotus designs an innovative and low-impact visitor center for Jodhpurs Mehrangarh Fort
Delhi-based multidisciplinary design practice Studio Lotus has won a competition to design the new visitor center and knowledge center for Jodpur’s Mehrangarh Fort, one of India’s largest forts that dates back to the 15th century. Now a major tourist destination and repository for cultural and historical artifacts, the Mehrangarh Fort has been undergoing adaptive reuse and redevelopment projects that include the recent design competition organized by the Mehrangarh Museum Trust. Studio Lotus’ winning proposal for “sensitive spatial interventions” was selected due to its use of a highly flexible construction methodology capable of handling high volumes of pedestrian traffic with minimal ecological impact.
Selected from three finalists, Studio Lotus’ winning proposal was conceived as an “architectural system” rather than a set of buildings. The modular construction — made primarily from metal and stone to blend in with the environs — are scalable and can be easily inserted and adapted for a variety of areas within the Mehrangarh Fort. The construction system can be used to create a variety of structures, from raised pathways to buildings.
“Studio Lotus’ proposal seeks to create new linkages in the fort precinct by means of sensitive spatial interventions that bolster the existing circulation scheme,” the architects explained in a project statement. “The towering edifice of Mehrangarh and its various outcroppings constitute a staggeringly intricate built character, as much a testament to the beauty of the built form as it is an embodiment of the region’s culture and heritage. It was pertinent that any additions or modifications to this dense fabric enmesh with the existing; the proposed intervention aims to do just that — through expressive and adaptable additions that make the most of modern construction technology, yet stand deferential to the historic site’s timeless magnificence.”
Located at the junction of the Jai Pol Plaza and a new parallel pathway along the main fort entrance, the new visitor center will mark an alternate entrance and be built from woven steel lattice-based modules fitted with stone ‘tukdi’ slabs. The Knowledge Center will be set on the northwestern ramparts overlooking the Chohelao Bagh and be made up of a series of interconnected decks descending from the Palace Plaza and arranged around a steep lightwell. The programming along the decks will progress from public to more private spaces and include exhibition galleries, seminar halls, community spaces and a space for scholar studies.
Images via Studio Lotus