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Contemporary Adaptation of the Traditional Art of Warli: Owara, Nashik

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on October 27, 2015 at 02:38 PM

Synectics Architects Pvt. Ltd. was established at Nashik, Maharastra, in 2009 by Ar. Dhananjay Pawar and has since had a pan Indian practice, with two restaurant design projects completed in London as well. With a design style that combines popular appeal with a fair finesse in technology and finishes, Synectics seems to have accomplished some level of expertise in designing popular eating joints, especially making splashes in the Nashik skyline. We take a look at Owara, a vegetarian restaurant in Nashik designed by Synectics which showcases Warli tribal art and culture, native to a part of Mahahrashtra, while offering all the trappings of a contemporary eatery.

© Courtesy of Synectics Architects Pvt. Ltd.

Owara, located in the Chandsi area of Nashik, is a standalone restaurant which automatically makes the design brief inclusive of the exteriors as well, starting with the entranceway. The otherwise regular concrete and brickwork construction makes use of an unusually sloped roofline and angularly placed M.S. columns supporting the canopies of the outdoor seating to create an impermanent bamboo tent like impression, akin to a tribal structure. Coupled with all the Warli painting that adorns the compound wall as well as the entrance gateway, the structure doesn’t just stand out against the regular builtscape of the city, but also emphatically announces its tribal Warli theme through all the modern metaphor of steel and glazing.

An interesting alternation between modern or contemporary design elements and tribal insignia has been used in Owara to balance modern catering requirements with a tribal theme. As the mannequins of a Warli couple and a centrally placed Tulsi planter welcome a visitor at the entrance, he or she then passes over a glass bridge framed in M.S. sections, placed over a fish pond visible through it, to enter and be lead to the various dining areas of the restaurant. Pausing at this bridge, gazing at the fish pond beneath, one can decide which area to dine at and proceed towards it.

On either side of bridge, the outdoor dining areas laid out along the length of the compound wall can be accessed. This entire area has been divided in nine parts or levels, and laid out in a procession, each part progressively elevated around 9” higher than the  previous one, reflecting the slope of the roof. Each level of this garden seating area is covered by a lawn and protected overhead by individual frosted glass canopies framed by and supported on M.S. sections, sloping in alternate directions to create an interesting roofscape. The inner surface of the compound wall, well utilised to showcase Warli objects like inside glass cases with information leaflets, creates a museum as the backdrop at all levels of the outdoor seating. 

The bridge also leads to the main entrance to the indoors through a double height teakwood door with bamboo handles, entering through which we find ourselves in the indoor dining area spanning almost the entire building length. This large dining space is abutted by an open kitchen at one end and by a staircase leading upstairs to the banquet hall doubling up as a discotheque at the other end. Located right opposite the main entrance is a doorway leading to an inner dining area, a secluded one preferred by youngsters and couples, aptly named ‘Kopchi”.

The Warli theme continues in the interiors through backlit bamboo motifs on MDF panels on the ceiling, ‘Bohada’ masks mounted on the wall above the kitchen counter and the huge Warli painting on the wall enclosing the staircase. Cloth lanterns, long and colourful with tribal art, suspended above every table and a different Warli painting encased on each table top further enhances the theme. 

Apart from the lighting design in the aforementioned main dining area, the ones in the other areas are also noteworthy. While lights reflected off the varying shapes and colours of wine bottle sections fitted in the ceiling of the ‘Kopchi’ create different patterns and moods at different times, the elongated streaky backlighting in the panelling of the discotheque that continues into the ceiling lends it a surreal aura. 

These horizontal lighting lines of the banquet hall take off from the horizontally oriented slit windows, which show up on the outside as elevational elements. The massive sloping roof has also a sizable overhang on three sides, where large flood lights have been mounted to light up the entire premises in the evening.

To put it shortly, the combination of a prominent built form, uncommon roof scape, steel and glazing and brilliant lighting are sure to make Ówara’ stand out in the Nashik skyline and enjoy local popularity. The eatery scores on double ends by successfully showcasing a tribal theme without compromising on any contemporary technological contribution towards its comfort and ambience.

Designer : Dhananjay Pawar, Synectics Architects Pvt Ltd
Photography :Courtesy the architect

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