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The Ark in Vadodara Seamlessly Marries Art and Architecture in this Mixed Use Building

Gallery Ark by Landscape India

Gallery Ark opened its doors in May 2017, as a part of The Ark - the Rubamin Group’s head office, designed by architect Aniket Bhagwat who is known for his excellence in landscape design.

The building’s heavy incorporation of art into its plan sets it apart from a conventional office building, reflecting Atul and Seema Dalmia’s long-standing patronage and deep engagement with art, particularly the dynamic cultural scene in Vadodara, a city historically associated with some of the pivotal movements in Indian art.

Images from top left: Basement and exhibition space at The Ark; Exterior view of building; a mural by Gond artists depicting the story ofNoah’s Ark in the office space; exhibition view of the exhibition “Elements in Mythology” at Gallery Ark | All images courtesy Gallery Ark

Three years since it’s conception, The Ark - with its art gallery, café and outreach programme that includes curated walkthroughs - has emerged as a vital cultural hub in the city, inviting artists and cultural figures from across the world to engage with the space.

he structure of the building references Modernist artist Paul Klee’s iconic painting Uncomposed Objects in Space (1929) whilst also building on the metaphor of the Ark - a vessel preserving living beings. The ark motif is articulated once again in a specially commissioned mural by Gond artist (picture above) in the office space. Elsewhere, paintings from the Dalmia’s private collection and the gallery inventory as well as specially commissioned installations, such as Mrugan Rathod’s site-specific piece Avataran (pictured above), are spread across the four floors of the building. The artworks on display heavily reference the history of Vadodara, with a strong representation of both

the icons of the Baroda School, such as K.G Subramanian, as well as younger, contemporary artists from the Faculty of Fine Arts, M S University.

Picture Courtesy: Gallery Ark

With the vision to incorporate art into the design DNA of the building, the architect and founders of Ark also invited Ahmedabad-based artist Walter D’Souza to incorporate his sketches into the building plan, including the bannister to the staircase (pictured left) connecting the atrium and amphitheater, to the basement parking which carries a number of murals. The basement, equipped with state of the art lighting, also serves as a space for exhibitions and performances.

Gallery Ark moves beyond the classic “white cube” gallery style, with dynamically curated exhibitions that reflect Atul and Seema Dalmia’s broader vision to create a vibrant cultural space for the city and an opportunity to share the best of Indian modern and contemporary art. The gallery’s programme, currently developed by Gallery Director Nupur Dalmia, heavily reflects Vadodara’s rich artistic legacy, through thoughtfully curated shows as well as workshops and talks that create an opportunity for a dialogue on art. The current show - Elements in Mythology - brings together India’s leading ceramic artists in an ode to the region’s proto-history relating to Indus Valley sites such as Dholavira and Lothal, and the role played by clay in preserving the narratives from this early period. The gallery also works closely with the Faculty of Fine Art, M S University, to create a network of artists and academics who contribute to the programming.

Picture Courtesy: Gallery Ark

With its immersive approach to art and culture, The Ark stands as a strong example of mixed-use architecture that is sensitive to the impetus and drive of art patrons to create a culturally dynamic space for the city.

Project: Gallery Ark

Location: Vadodara

Design House: Landscape India

Photography: Shilpa Gavane


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