KOODAARAM: The Kochi-Muziris Biennale Pavilion 2018-19

Anagram Architects with B L Manjunath and Studio Wood

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) is the largest contemporary art festival in Asia, held once every two years, in abandoned factories and warehouses repurposed as galleries and cafes, in Fort Kochi-Mattancherry, in Kerala, South India. Every biennale, a pavilion is constructed to host performance and cinematic art at Cabral Yard, a one-acre campus full of large canopied trees in the heart of Fort Kochi.

In KMB 2018, the curator Anita Dube commissioned Anagram Architects to design the Biennale Pavilion. In turn, Anagram Architects collaborated with B L Manjunath for structural design and Studio Wood for furniture design. In earlier editions, the Pavilion had served essentially as an auditorium for cinematic and stage performances.

This year the curatorial brief envisioned a more intensive and inclusive programmatic use, of both the structure and the campus. This included workshops, lectures, social performances, conferences and book launches. Further, the pavilion kept its media and connectivity open for public use between scheduled programming. Other than the Pavilion, this time the campus housed two eateries, a children’s art space, an ATM, public toilets and an organic waste recycling plant.

Built-in a record time of two months, the pavilion is designed to completely dismantle into components salvageable for reuse, leaving the site largely unmarked, to allow for its rewilding over the coming two years. The pavilion is deconstructed to reveal through its porosities, programmatic flexibilities and skeletal, the (un)making of a monolith. The intent is to widen experiences of architectural coalescence, both material and programmatic. Walls and ground fluidly morph and, similarly, canopy and foliage merge to create opportunities for spontaneous and social spectacles, encounters and conversations.

Furniture: Studio Wood. Finishes, Rexalon, HRDUA, TATA Steel Ltd, Scorpio Tiles, Everest Industries, 3M. Fittings & Fixtures: Kohler.

Photography: Suryan//Dang