Dilli Haat is an initiative by the Government to promote the rich crafts of India. It is conceived as a crafts village where the local craftsmen have a chance to display their creative wares on a mainstream platform, an exposure that will be equally beneficial for the urban population as well as the craftsman.
For an architect, the appeal lies in the beauty of the concept and also the various possibilities in which design of such a space can be approached.
The Dilli Haat is conceived as a series of small display spaces through which a visitor can walk and discover the different items on display. There are individual small spaces allotted to the various craftsmen, where they hang their wares. The stalls are alloted to the craftsmen for a period of 15 days, after which new craftsmen are alloted the space to display their wares, which is an interesting concept ensuring that things are constantly getting refreshed. More craftsmen get opportunities this way and also the visitors have a reason to come back once more. The language is an attempt at the vernacular, with sloping roofs tiled with black slate tiles with unplastered brick walls. The paths lead one through a series of spaces with different shops on either side. There are numerous stalls selling various items like khadi clothes, hand printed sheets, handmade sandals, furnitures etc.
There is a food court area, where foodstalls from various states are there with the different cuisines. The concept is an interesting one and the treatment of the space is done well to create tightly knit space with outdoor eating areas. However, the vernacular architecture of the different states could have been reflected better.
I one were to analyse the design, you would feel that there is a lack of cohesiveness in the space. The various spaces are somehow unrelated. The movement path, which is so very important here could have been better planned to create interesting vistas, hidden surprises and generally to create a better unfolding of the space. It would also have been interesting if there were spaces / platforms for the craftsmen to actually make their products in real time, so that the visitor is more engaged, is more involved & informed about the process and the dying techniques of the various craftsmen. One feels that an opportunity has been lost to send out a strong message, which is equally important in a concept like this.
On the whole, Dilli Haat is a place which is interesting to visit – for what it is and also for what it could have been.