Studio Sangath’s design of an art center draws parallels with Pols of Ahmedabad

Mimicking the character of a street where people, activities and stories merge and a festive spirit pervades, Studio Sangath manifests this inspiration in the design of an arts and culture center in Ahmedabad, India. Referred to as 079 Stories – the title 079 is taken from the city code while stories represents the inherent interest of space in conversations and the power of spoken personal expressions.




079 Stories is located in a low-rise residential area in western Ahmedabad Image: Vinay Panjwani, Hoof of Khushnu Panthaki


Located on the western outskirts of Ahmedabad, along one of the main thoroughfares that connects the district to the city, the area is largely residential and populated by two-storey buildings. The architecture of 079 Stories presents itself as a rusty red cubic mass nestled behind an enclosure of neem trees. The built form reveals a set of openings, interconnected planes and hollow volumes.



  • Central courtyard with staircase |  079 Stories |  Ahmadabad |  STIRworld
    Central courtyard with staircase Image: Vinay Panjwani, Hoof of Khushnu Panthaki






  • Entrance to the gallery on the first floor |  079 Stories |  Ahmadabad |  STIRworld
    Entrance to the gallery on the first floor Image: Vinay Panjwani, Hoof of Khushnu Panthaki



The starting point for the design of architects Khushnu Panthaki Hoof and Sönke Hoof of Ahmedabad-based Studio Sangath was to “create a kind of street that would draw you into space from the road – much like the pols of Ahmedabad – where the central space becomes the heart of the overflow of activities and conversations.” The pols are closed residential complexes whose essence is characterized by a network of small streets, alleys, sanctuaries and open community spaces. This settlement pattern has a widespread rural origin in the villages of northern Gujarat.

We see this parallel taking shape from the entrance of the building. Just like the chowk from pols where different paths converge towards a spirited center of the house, the entrance gently drifts into the heart of the building – an inner courtyard. Engulfed in a black and white landscape, the space is enlivened by a staircase leading to the first floor gallery, and a series of projecting elements and irregular openings punctuating the surrounding walls. Within the two-story building, this level constitutes a double-height café, co-working space, amphitheater and office.



View from the steps leading to the first floor |  079 Stories |  Ahmadabad |  STIRworld
View from the steps leading to the first floor Image: Vinay Panjwani, Hoof of Khushnu Panthaki


The idea behind 079 Stories, according to Studio Sangath, was “to create a versatile space that could adapt and initiate a dialogue between fine art and various forms of performing arts such as theatre, dance and the music.” Aware of the understanding that stories are fodder for artistic creation, the design team ensured that a certain fluidity permeated the building and that there were serendipitous connections in the built form to keep people connected. .



  • Double height cafeteria |  079 Stories |  Ahmadabad |  STIRworld
    Double height cafeteria Image: Vinay Panjwani, Hoof of Khushnu Panthaki






  • Outdoor space on the first floor|  079 Stories |  Ahmadabad |  STIRworld
    Outdoor space on the first floor Image: Vinay Panjwani, Hoof of Khushnu Panthaki



Visual connectivity is another aspect that has been closely considered in the architectural scheme. To avoid isolation of programs and people on both floors, Studio Sangath created a bridge-like element that crosses the café at double height, allowing people to stay connected to the courtyard, to look at the amphitheater and the scenery outside, or just sit down for impromptu chats. The inner courtyard also has a balcony that people could inhabit for informal interactions. “This conversation between the interior and exterior spaces as well as the first and the ground floor was the main driver of the design,” says the design team.



View of the inner courtyard |  079 Stories |  Ahmadabad |  STIRworld
View of the inner courtyard Image: Vinay Panjwani, Hoof of Khushnu Panthaki


Throughout the day, natural light transforms the atmospheres of the interior volume and the exterior landscape. The east facade of the building, facing the amphitheater, draws sunlight into the building and manifests an ephemeral layer of shadowy planes and voids that stand out against the black and white space.



  • View of the center from the landscape |  079 Stories |  Ahmadabad |  STIRworld
    View of the center from the landscape Image: Vinay Panjwani, Hoof of Khushnu Panthaki






  • The outdoor amphitheater |  079 Stories |  Ahmadabad |  STIRworld
    The outdoor amphitheater Image: Vinay Panjwani, Hoof of Khushnu Panthaki



The material palette for the porous cubic mass and landscape in the center uses red oxide plaster on the exterior walls, patterned granite flooring for the interiors and amphitheater, and exposed concrete on the ceiling.

Speaking to STIR, architect Khushnu Panthaki Hoof shares that the most special aspect of the project for her was “how the activities intertwine and enliven the space, how the space adapts to changes in temperature , sunshine and climatic conditions throughout the day/year.” 079 Stories, she adds, “provides opportunities for a wide range of activities, ranging from exhibitions, concerts, performances, gatherings as well as pottery markets”.



  • Concept Sketch - Plan |  079 Stories |  Ahmadabad |  STIRworld
    Concept Sketch – Plan Image: Courtesy of Studio Sangath






  • Concept Sketch - Visual Connections |  079 Stories |  Ahmadabad |  STIRworld
    Concept Sketch – Visual Connections Image: Courtesy of Studio Sangath






  • Ground floor plan |  079 Stories |  Ahmadabad |  STIRworld
    Ground floor plan Image: Courtesy of Studio Sangath






  • First floor plan |  079 Stories |  Ahmadabad |  STIRworld
    First floor plan Image: Courtesy of Studio Sangath




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Rozella J. Cook