A breezy and beautiful open-air bazaar has recently been completed in Lucknow, the capital of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh that’s home to a rich legacy of craftsmanship. Local architecture firm Archohm designed the urban bazaar, named Avadh Shilpgram, which sprawls across 20 acres with curvilinear lines and pathways into a contemporary interpretation of the historic marketplaces. The walled bazaar features a series of arches—an important architectural element to the city—mostly clad in Red Agra sand stone and some with grass surfaces for a warm and earthy appearance.
Avadh Shilpgram contains nearly 200 craft shops, some of which are air-conditioned; craft courts; a dormitory hostel; auditorium, and food court. The walled bazaar’s layout is organized along a centrally placed spiral that culminates into a tight curl with an open plaza at the center. The spiral comprises a series of steel-framed arches clad in Red Agra sandstone in a Jaali pattern, the motif of which was inspired by the renowned Lucknowi embroidery craft called ‘Chikan kari.’ The grand arches let natural light and ventilation flow through the space and recall the large arches found in the Buland Darwaza in Agra.
Craft shops and courts line the arches and offer local craftspeople a place to sell their wares and teach their craft. “During the design process, the layout of the twenty-acre Awadh Shilpgram evolved organically from the commercial, cultural, social and leisurely interactions of people,” write the architects. “An elliptical form enables a smooth corner-free circulation; it narrows down while spiralling inward, and emulates the density and vibrancy of the Lucknowi Bazaars of yesteryears; the bazaars with the streets that got progressively narrower.” To balance the paved surfaces, the architects added large amounts of landscaping, from the green space that hugs the outer rim of the spiral to the planted terraces in the amphitheater and the grass-covered arched workshop spaces.