Special Project

Back to the future

October 2016
A 200-year-old haveli situated in the heart of Delhi, Haveli Dharampura has been restored and converted into a heritage hotel.
Imagine, if you will, a walk back in time to Old Delhi´s halcyon days, the regal splendour of the rich marriage between heritage and history, art and culture. Welcome to Haveli Dharampura, resplendent with its antique ambience, lakhori brickwork and arched vaults. All rooms open up to the courtyard with immense inflow of natural light, airflow and visual connectivity. Here, the third-floor-cum-terrace area is a major highlight feature, offering a grand vista of Chandni Chowk, bringing its life and essence into the Haveli.

The restoration plan
Retrofitting was not an easy task. ´The major constraints on the site were the suspended electrical, data and phone cables overhanging from the poles down to the street, the dilapidated elements, the fragile structure and open service connections,´ shares Kapil Aggarwal, Principal Architect, Spaces Architects@ka. Multiple cracks on the columns and walls and large patches of dampness made the heritage structure look like an ordinary run-down building. Without any plans or drawings, Aggarwal informs, ´We had to develop a programme even before starting the design, which involved the building survey, to prepare measured drawings and structural repair and strengthening of the building.´ The existing haveli had a G+2 structure where the second floor was nhabitable with broken floor slabs and access to the floor. The architect had to retrofit various uses in the renovated and structurally improved G+1 structure and construct the second and third floors and a terrace area. By increasing a floor, the number of rooms was increased and a vantage point was created.

Strengthening the structure
Haveli Dharampura needed a rigorous process of structural strengthening and retrofitting as the structure was dilapidated and collapsing under its own weight. For this, various tasks were performed.

As Aggarwal explains, ´The main structure has been strengthened by epoxy grouting and FRP wrap addition of columns at required places. All the slabs were repaired and micro-concreting was done at places. Wooden beams have been replaced. A few techniques like stitching were used to fix cracks on walls.´

Efficient energy
With sustainability being a major design concern, the artificial lighting fixtures used are energy-efficient. Solar panels have been used to generate electricity for lighting and heating purposes, making the building self-sufficient in its energy requirements. Also, for mechanical cooling, VRV HVAC systems have been used throughout, which minimise energy consumption to deliver optimum energy savings. Further, the AC units have been centrally placed on the wooden ceiling as this was an efficient way to solve the problem without disturbing the aesthetics.

Natural light and airflow
As the plot faces west, natural lighting was only possible through the courtyard. Keeping this in mind and to increase the amount of light, the rooms and other functional spaces were planned around the courtyard. The upper floors are placed back from the floor below, creating an inverted triangle-like form. This makes the top opening wider, increasing the amount of light entering inside and improving visual connectivity, naturally lighting every room and the restaurant area. On the ground floor, the courtyard extends into the restaurant area through wide glass panels, which replaced the existing door under the arches.

Material picks
All the materials used for conservation and retrofitting were locally available. As Aggarwal explains, ´The main entry in the façade had intricate carving and engraving in Dholpur stone. The walls were treated with lime plaster (consisting of lime, lentils, jaggery, jute fibre and wood apple) and paint.´

Conserving water
A rainwater harvesting system has been installed to collect rainwater from the terrace directly to the underground water storage tank of 25-kl capacity. For further water conservation, efficient plumbing fixtures have been used such as showers and taps. The harvested water is used to recharge the water table and the rest is used for cleaning purposes.

Ensuring safety
The security of the visitors and staff members has also been kept in mind with the installation of a modern surveillance system. For fire safety, a water hydrant system is fixed and fire exit plans are displayed throughout the building.

Local flavour
True to its location, Haveli Dharampura´s design reflects its surroundings. Chandni Chowk is known for its diverse culture; it is home to different communities and traditional architecture. And Dharampura, which is a major part of Chandni Chowk, consists of the Sri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir with a bird hospital and a Naya Mandir built in 1807 as the first temple with a shikhara; the majority of the people living here follow Jainism.

´The approach was to amalgamate traditional architecture with contemporary modern architecture, keeping the old aura with respect to the surroundings and restore as much as possible to create an inviting space for both Indian and foreign visitors,´ explains Aggarwal. The design process involved elaborate two-year research of the entire urban fabric of Chandni Chowk. The resulting space had elements from Hindu, Mughal, Jain and Rajasthani architecture. Built during the late Mughal and colonial periods, the facades of havelis were magnificently carved in buff and red sandstone adorned with floral patterns, sculptures and fluted modulations. With a centrally-placed courtyard surrounded by rooms, the interiors followed courtyard planning. Beautiful jharokhas (windows), chattris (umbrellas), small decorative balconies, fluted columns, well-designed chabutras (platforms), traditional baithkas (drawing rooms) and marble floors are all features of the Mughal architectural style.

Indeed, at Haveli Dharampura, every room or space has its own theme, channelling the myriad flavours of architecture and livelihood of Chandni Chowk. What´s more, all furniture, lights and artefacts have been custom-designed for different spaces according to use and the theme.

Truly spectacular!

Project details
Size: 12,000 sq ft.
Amenities: Museum, restaurant, shops, spa, terrace kitchen, laundry, suites, rooms, etc.
Year of completion: 2016.
Contractor: RRA Consultancy Project Management, Gurgaon.
Developer and green consultant: Spaces Architects@ka.
Tel: 011-2626 8108.
Website: www.spacesarchitects-ka.com
Structural consultant: Tie Consultants.
Elevators and escalators: OTIS.
Website: www.otis.com
HVAC Consultant: AS Air Systems.
Air-conditioners: Daikin Airconditioning India.
Tel: 0124-455 5444.
Website: www.daikinindia.com
Roofing and glazing: Art N Glass.
Website: www.artnglassinc.com

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