from the archives

Designers : Divya Rath, Manali Das, Neha Sehgal

Winners : Best Illustration

Forts of the people, by the people, for the people

Pandemic 2020 has challenged spaces in a lot of unparalleled ways. It has limited people to their neighborhoods. With social distancing constraints, the role of public gatherings and Art performances has never been more noticeable.

Architectural debates responding to the need to intellectualize public spaces have been making rounds ever since. In the process, we are overlooking the possibility to rethink existing spaces that were once dedicated to such Performing Arts.

India has been showcasing these artists for centuries, the historical forts that once served as capital to the kings also had dedicated spaces for entertainment.

An effort could be made to lease such spaces and inform these structures beyond historical significance. This illustration is an attempt to recreate performances and gatherings, through an array of columns, arches, jharokhas, doors, and windows.

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For decades, the historical forts have been either suggested as museums with restricted spaces for light and sound shows in the public domain or places for royal private gatherings. In retrospect, we have been losing out on the connection of these forts with performing arts.

This illustration is a radical experiment to rethink the fort spaces that were once dedicated to such performances and public gatherings. Social distancing norms have become a necessity in the current times of Pandemic. The Fort spaces can be lent to the Performing artists to showcase their acts while assigning columns, arches, jharokhas, and window openings to the audiences.

For instance, the stepwells (A) can substitute amphitheaters. The stepped landings can allow a seating arrangement conforming to the norms of social distancing while watching a stand-up act.

Huge courtyard fronts (B), which were earlier used for public meetings and ceremonies, are now spaces for theatre and nukkad natikas/ street play.

Gardens (C) here have turned into a cafe with live music.

The historical chowks (D and E), originally built as entertainment spaces, conveniently serves as a performance space for a dynamic crowd. Space D illustrates Garba with a crowd of about 25 people whereas space E illustrates another dance performance with a larger audience.

Royal rooms (F), serves as spaces for more intimate gatherings. For example – a Puppet Show

An open pavilion (G), earlier used for celebrations, now is showcasing a band performance.

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