Allauddin Khilji built a gigantic tank for the residents of Delhi in 1269 AD. A century later the reservoir was restored by Firoz Shah Tughlaq, who added a small complex of tombs and a traditional Islamic school along an eastern embankment. The traditional urban village surrounding the monuments, has undergone rapid transformation to accommodate designer stores. Orienting itself to the numerous staircases, the café and art gallery complex is inspired by the garden like walled setting of the surrounding architecture.
The building is contained within a square, a springing point for monumental Islamic architecture, and broken up into enclosed, formal outdoor and indoor spaces, contained within the unified geometrical space.
The walls are constructed out of local quartzite, random rubble masonary, which provide thermal mass to stabilize the extremes of temperature, and reinforces the building’s connection to its surroundings. Enclosed courtyards become outdoor eating, and exhibit areas, where the plantation of native trees and shrubs provide color, living sculpture, a cool microclimate, and cross ventilation.