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Adaptive Reuse of a British Gothic House
Published on January 23, 2020
Author: Mahima Sorathia , guided and Documented by Anagha Joshi
A museum is a non-profit institution that conserves the collection of artifacts and other objects of artistic, cultural, historical, or scientific importance. Museums are open to public view. The largest museums are located in major cities throughout the world, while thousands of local museums exist in smaller cities, towns, and rural areas. Museums are set up with an aim to serve researchers, specialists, and the general public. There are more than 55,000 museums in 202 countries found across the world as per the International Council of Museum. Many types of museums are found like art museums, natural history museums, science museums, war museums, and children’s museums. There are some world’s largest and most visited museums like the Louvre in Paris, the National Museum of China in Beijing, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the British Museum and National Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and Vatican Museums in Vatican City.
In the olden days museums worked as private collections of wealthy individuals, families, or institutions of art and artifacts. One of the oldest museums known is Ennigaldi-Nanna’s museum built by Princess Ennigaldi at the end of the Neo-Babylonian Empire formed in c. 530 BCE. It contains artifacts from earlier Mesopotamian civilizations like a clay drum written in three languages was found at the site. These museums were not open to the public. It was in access to public for private art collections that also only to the the owner and his staff. Elite men of this period gained a good social status in the world of elites by becoming a collector of these objects and displaying them. Many of the items in these collections were new discoveries. The collectors or naturalists who had an interest in natural sciences were eager to obtain them. By displaying their collections in a museum they not only got to show their fantastic discoveries but they also used the museum as a way to sort and manage the empirical explosion of materials that wider dissemination of ancient texts, increased travel, voyages of discovery, and more systematic forms of communication and exchanged produced.
Furniture is as much a part of the history of man as the built form. Buildings or shelters have always been about necessity. Hunters and gatherers started building temporary shelters to escape hails or sandstorms. Form followed function. But sometimes, the shelter wasn’t enough to cater to all functions. As years passed, with evolution, the form started depicting luxury and status. The question was no longer about bare necessities. The same evolution had to have happened with furniture. Furniture came into existence in 3100-2500 B.C. The first item created was for households made of stone as wood was not easily available during the Neolithic period. Dressers, cupboards, and beds were amongst the first forms of furniture. The dresser was an important piece of furniture in the beginning as they were kept facing the entrance of houses in Neolithic society and often displayed carved artwork of symbolic objects. In modern years, the concept of functional household furniture exploded while keeping the artwork aspect of the Neolithic period. This has made way for pieces in our culture that are both functional to our everyday use but also a form of artwork that is pleasant to look at. The basic design of most furniture has remained the same but material and stability have become stronger and long-lasting with more focus on comfort and luxury in our modern lives. Chairs were designed not as a place to sit but as a place to relax by making them recliners and rocking features. Beds are designed to give comfortable sleep along with avoiding lying on the ground. The change in furniture designs shows the evolution of our society from mere survival to that of luxury and privilege. Furniture Museums are museums that exhibit the history and art of furniture. Furniture museums aren’t a specific category, but most furniture exhibits are arranged in Design Museums.
Some examples of Furniture and Design museums are as follows:
• Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany
• Korea Furniture Museum, Seoul, South Korea
• Imperial Furniture Collection, Vienna, Austria
• Designmuseum Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark
Topography of Vadodara
The topographical conditions of Vadodara are typical of this region. Due to its location between the plains of Narmada and Mahi rivers, it has fertile land suitable for agriculture. The city is situated on the banks of the Vishwamitri River that generally dries up during the summer season and turns into a narrow stream of water. The city of Vadodara comes under the seismic Zone III on a scale ranging from 1 to 5. It is quite prone to earthquakes. Pavagadh Hills are the tallest region of Vadodara as a district. It also comes under the Government of India’s Agriculture Export Zone with 69% land of the district falling under net sown area. There are many major crops being cultivated in this district. They include wheat, sorghum, yellow peas, rice, tobacco, groundnut, sugar cane, oilseeds, arhar, and cotton. The main horticultural crops of Vadodara are mango and chickoo along with tomatoes.
Climate in Vadodara
The climate of Vadodara is typical Savannah type falling under Koppen’s classification of climate. The climate is mostly dry with three main seasons viz, summer, winter, and monsoon. Monsoon is the rainy season. The average rainfall is 37 inches in this district but occasionally, there are heavy rains causing flood in the rivers. Due to the southwest monsoons, the climate becomes humid from mid of June to mid of September months.
A Brief History of Vadodara
Vadodara is situated on the banks of River Vishwamitri. The name of this river was derived from the name of a great Saint Vishwamitra. During 9th Century, Present Akota was known as Ankottaka, which was a little town and was famous for Jainism located on banks of River Vishwamitri. In 5th and 6th Century A.D., Some of bronze Images are still found in Baroda Museum. Architecture findings also date Baroda back to this time.
The early trade settlers made an entry in 812 A.D.. The imperial Baroda province was mainly ruled by Hindu Kings till the year 1297. Chalukya Dynasty took over the Gupta Empire by fierce battle after intense rivalry. After then, it was taken over by Solanki Rajputs. Tehn, Muslim rule was spread across India and reins of Power were then snatched by Sultans of Delhi. The city was ruled for a long time by these Sultans, until they were easily overthrown by the Mughal emperors. During this time, Maratha Gaekwads made an entry into this region and began their reputable reign. They made Vadodara as their capital.
The Glorious History of the Gaekwad’s began when Maratha General Pilaji Rao Gaekwad conquered Songadh from the Mughals in year 1726. The Mughal rule came to an End in Year 1732, when Maratha General Pilaji Rao Gekwad intensified the Maratha campaigns in South Gujarat and carved out a Kingdom for his lineage. Son & Succesor of Pilaji Rao Gekwad – Damajirao, defeated the Mughal Armies and conquered Baroda State in Year 1734. Slowly, the Gekwad successors intensified the degree of their hold over more areas of Gujarat, which made them most Powerful Rulers in the region. The Geakwad’s ruled the Kingdom until Indian Independence in Year 1947.
SITE AND SURROUNDINGS
History of Site
Padma Koot, located opposite to the Polo Ground, Palace road, Vadodara was originally a home built was the britishers. Currently, a Gaekwad family resides there. They are very keen on preserving their old furniture and lifestyle. While documenting the furniture, they expressed their wish to convert their residence into a part home museum.
”Padma Koot” Opposite Polo Ground, Palace Road, Vadodara. Context: Lakshmi Vilas Palace, Polo Ground
On the northern side of the bungalow, there is building which is a mirror reflection of the chosen site. On the southern side, there is an open ground. On the west, there is the polo ground and on the east, there is clamped housing. Most of the buildings are old, but well maintained. One of the most important landmarks in Vadodara is close to the site, which could instigate the visitor flow.
Site and Context
Site boundary and dimensions: 58.2 x 30.2 M The site is currently home to a family of 4. The built form is in the center, leaving landscape in the rest of the space within the boundary. There are storage sheds behind the bungalow. The original bungalow was made in the British architectural style with art deco for Britishers. Later an extension was added on the northern side of the building, creating a semi-open space for recreation.
DOCUMENTATION OF FURNITURE
4 - Beds
10 - Cabinets 10 CHAIRS
10 - Cupboards
4 - Dressers
3 - Pedestals
2 - Shelves
16 - Tables
4 - Writing Desks
6 - Miscellaneous Furniture Pieces
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