Paying tribute to the building's historical heritage while incorporating the brand identity of TARQ

Squareworks presents TARQ, a contemporary art gallery projects located between two significant and historical urban fabrics of Mumbai. The site is on the ground floor of a 120 year old building sitting at the eastern edge of the Victorian Gothic style urban fabric, and to the west across from maidan, art deco architecture built between the 1930s to 40s reflecting the modern movement and development of Mumbai. The restoration and transformation of this historic structure into a contemporary art gallery space required careful consideration of its historical significance and integration with modern elements.


Gallery facade (day time)
Photo credit: Studio Charuau

During the design process, the foremost objective was to pay attention to the building's rich history, while infusing it with a fresh and contemporary aesthetic that characterizes the contemporary art gallery. The initial consideration was to introduce abundant natural light by restoring the original openings within the thick brick masonry structure. The underlying steel columns and beams supporting the lofty 14-foot-high ceilings of the gallery emphasize the verticality of the space. This was accomplished by highlighting the columns with wood filler, creating a visually striking manifestation of the building's structural elements.


Gallery view
Photo credit: Studio Charuau


Gallery view and library on cat walk
Photo credit: Studio Charuau

A feature that emerged during the design process was incorporating a Corten steel wall. This addition served a dual purpose, paying tribute to the building's historical heritage while incorporating the brand identity of TARQ. The desire to infuse the windowless conference room with TARQ's signature crimson red led to exploring various options. The choice of Corten steel was driven by its ability to coexist with the original steel structure, imbuing the space with bold materiality and a textured aesthetic.


Steel staircase
Photo credit: Studio Charuau


Gallery view from library
Photo credit: Studio Charuau

Preserving the values of the heritage building was a concern during the restoration process. The efforts in that regard included restoring the original wooden windows on the north part of the facade and employing skilled carpenters. On the west facade, as there was no evidence of original window frames, the existing openings were retained, and new window frames and shutters with central axial hinges were installed. This careful preservation work not only respected the building's architectural legacy, but also introduced new elements that enhanced visibility from inside and outside the gallery space.


Detail of arch window
Photo credit: Studio Charuau


Office space
Photo credit: Studio Charuau


Director's cabin
Photo credit: Studio Charuau

The design approach undertaken for this project exemplified a deep respect and appreciation for the heritage of the old building. Incorporating the Corten steel tile wall not only honoured TARQ's brand identity, but also celebrated the building's historical legacy. Through meticulous attention to detail and the preservation of intrinsic values, the resulting gallery space is a testament to the harmonious coexistence of history and modernity.


Conference room
Photo credit: Studio Charuau


Powder room
Photo credit: Studio Charuau

About Squareworks

Squareworks, an architecture and urban design practice, focuses on design and research on housing, public space/institutions, and urbanism. Based in Mumbai, India, Squareworks aims to combine both design and research in order to open professional and academic discourse within the realms of architecture and urbanism, while keeping ‘drawing’ and ‘diagram’ as forms of knowledge, as well as communicative tools. This approach not only supports design development, but also questions the limits of professional practice within the current urban environment and city-planning process.

Katsushi Goto

He is a practicing architect/urbanist based in Mumbai and Tokyo, and is Director of ‘Squareworks’, a design and research firm. He studied housing and urbanism at Architectural Association (AA), London. He participated in the BIENNALE OF PUBLIC SPACE 2017 and 2019, Rome, presenting his research on “Public Library as an Urban Public Space”, and at UIA Congress 2017 in Seoul, presenting the research paper “Duality in Drawing - potential of discursive drawing responding to complex city”. He is a visiting researcher at Meiji University, Tokyo, and a studio tutor at CEPT University, Ahmedabad, India.