Punyashlok Ahilyadevi Holkar 1000 Cultural Art Centers

"To be able to have a design impact at scale is the biggest dream and greatest challenge come true. How can well designed public spaces be delivered to 2+ million people through an inclusive design process leading to stronger communities?"

- Alpa Nawre

In a country of 1.3 billion people, single well-designed architectural or landscape architectural projects are not even a drop in the ocean! This project is an ambitious attempt to deliver well-designed public spaces and stronger communities to over 2 million people in villages in Maharashtra. This grand vision will be achieved by providing facilities consisting of public multi-functional, sheltered but semi-open pavilions. The project is envisioned to not just deliver about 1,000 well-designed Cultural Public Spaces but also a community of people in each village who will become emotionally and intellectually engaged with each other and connected to the new facility, through an engaged participatory design/construction process.

These pavilions act as flexible spaces that can accommodate a variety of cultural, spiritual and civic events, such as lectures, adult learning, festival celebrations, theatre and plays, and other group activities. Each of these pavilions will be accompanied by other civic and recreational amenities and landscape improvements as possible.




2019 - Ongoing


Research + Public Participation + Design


Alpa Nawre, Saurabh Lohiya, Gaurav Lohiya, Alysoun Wright, Caroline Craddock

Public Spaces in Rural Maharashtra: Public gathering spaces in rural India are either poorly designed or mostly non-existent. Villagers typically gather at any open space that is shaded and sit on the ground. Sometimes cloth barriers tied to bamboo frames are erected on streets to enclose space and conduct events.

In Indian villages, public spaces are non-existent or extremely gendered. This project could provide a unique precedent of inclusive public space and impact at an impressive scale.

Inclusive and Variable Public Spaces: Summer architectural intern Alysoun Wright discusses the primary objectives of the Punyashlok Ahilyadevi Holkar 1000 Cultural Art Centers.

Maximizing Sheltered Space: In this design iteration, a fan-shaped central space allows the seated audiences to occupy the maximum floor space, while paved areas provide an extension to the pavilion space. Bamboo screens provide ornamentation as well as enclosure to the space. One wall of the pavilion is dedicated towards co-creation of community art murals.

Cultural Considerations: Various cultural aspects are considered in the conceptual designs. For example, women are often excluded from public spaces in rural India and thus separate areas are created on either sides of the pavilion to accommodate both genders. Further, dedicated spaces are made for people to safely stow their foot-ware while events are happening (a common cultural practice).

Active Recreation: Space is allocated for sports courts to play Volleyball and Kabaddi, while a children's play area includes slides and hopscotch. Platforms to play chess and other board games are provided in the shade of trees, which may also act as seats. Paved areas with seats in the shade of trees provide an extension to the pavilion space and sheltered spaces for discussions and gatherings.

Flexible Design: In this design iteration, multiple small pavilions are combined to provide adaptable spaces that can accommodate a variety of events. They provide sheltered area for lectures, adult learning, festival celebrations, theatre and plays, and other group activities. Separation of male and female user groups is catered through the separation of pavilions, while Jali walls provide ornamentation.