When it came to designing the dining space, a suggestion made to do away with tables and chairs were agreed upon by the team. Then it was the question of how do we go about it. It was during that time I had an opportunity to spend a day with a group of young children at a small stream on the southern outskirts of bangalore. The stream had a number of rocks and water was flowing between the spaces . I observed closely how children were engaging with the space, finding their spaces of comfort to sit and share their food. On the spot I make a working sketch attempting to translate it into an architectural possibility. End of the day back to my own space, I further modified the design to suit for a dining space and created a prototype in clay. The same was scaled up to create the existing dining hall.
It has built-in forms for people to sit and share their food. These forms permitted people to sit at different possibilities according to their convenience and temperament, as we do in any given natural space, if we go to a forest or so. Some would like to sit on a higher place, whereas some on a lower place. Some would hold the plate in hand and some other place it on something to eat. People can orient and sit in different possibilities to interact between themselves. When we generally eat, at no point in time find comfortable to interact with more than five or six persons, so this space also allows possibilities of small grouping. It also gives space for the one who wants to be her own at the same time remain part of the community. The space provided for all such possibilities. When the design was done, I was not sure if the space would be used as I imagined, but to my gladness, people found their own ways, as it was proposed.
The floor of the dining space is in the form of concave with seating arranged at different heights. This again creates a theatrical feel, and can be used also for small intimate performances. The entire space is finished with grey cement, giving a neutral aesthetic appeal in terms of colour. In terms of temperature, the coolest spot in the campus. Even in hot summer, the place holds a pleasant temperature. In our culture people tend to talk considerably while they eat. The way the space is organised, helps, even when about 60 people talk, it never comes loud.
Any given space and form, because of its use of material and the way the space is organised, is set to appeal to one particular class of people. It may make some feel comfortable and for some others uneasy. But in the case of the dining hall at Visthar, it is class neutral. A farmer, tribal, a student, or adults from different classes or stature all would feel at ease with this place. The ones who are culturally conditioned to one particular kind of comfort or the individuals with certain special needs, may find some difficulty.