The Village Cafe in Moradabad by Delhi based practice Portal 92 recreates a charming rural setting

AUG 20, 2020 | By Aneesha Bhadri
(L-R) The terracotta plaster is not only durable but also lends warmth to the space; Low heighted walls and planter clusters form a scattering of seating areas across the eatery; Exposed concrete rings cast in iron sheets puncture the terracotta walls, as seen near the bar; Photographs by Niveditaa Gupta

When architectural firm Portal 92 was approached to design The Village Cafe in Moradabad, principal architects Aanchal Sawhney and Sagar Goyal studied the ever-changing dynamics of village living. Covering two terrace levels, the 6,460 sq ft space was planned to create a sense of nostalgia for a greener and simpler bygone time.

Low-heighted walls and patches of vegetation break the layout into smaller volumes offering a sense of privacy, while shaded spaces form the larger seating areas. The structure itself does not use any imported materials, reducing the carbon footprint of the construction process. In fact, broken slabs of kadappa stone compose the flooring in the central court.

The seating area near the alfresco bar on the upper level has a gravel bed floor; Photographs by Niveditaa Gupta

Concentric iron sheets, partially filled with exposed concrete, punctuate terracotta plaster walls as a symbolic representation of asphalt encroaching on the Indian countryside, replacing traditional, organic building materials.

The plants have been locally sourced to ensure their survival with minimal maintenance. The flooring of the central court was made using broken slabs of black Kadappa stone found locally; Photographs by Niveditaa Gupta

Pendant lamps suspended from carved wooden posts characterise the ceiling. The Village Cafe is decorated with brass vessels to celebrate its location—Moradabad has a thriving brass handicrafts industry, lending it the name of Pital Nagri or ‘brass city’.