The design language for the refurbished El Chico restaurant in Allahabad weaves the city’s rich culture and legacy with contemporary elements sourced locally.
Often counted amongst the most populous cities of Uttar Pradesh, Allahabad is ever-growing and expanding in business, housing and lifestyle. One of the oldest cities in India that was once the core of the Mughal Empire, Allahabad is known for its culture rooted in every nook and corner. From roadways to accessibility, this metropolis that was recently named Prayagraj is a fast-growing city showcasing smart urban development and infinite opportunities.
Allahabad is evolving in tandem with the times, as evidenced by how architects, designers and urban planners are pushing forward in their efforts to build a smarter city for the future. We, at Chromed Design Studio, are attempting to improve the city in a multitude of ways, ideally through maximising the usage of locally available resources. This entails making it both environmentally and economically viable. Sustainability can only rise to the challenge by optimising geographical traces, making them more desirable and amiable and hence, more effective.
For designers like us who are working on projects in Allahabad, it has become essential to make a conscious effort to track the city’s growth and propose new and upcoming developments that aid in the F&B and hospitality industry in the city. Residents are now not only exposed to the local cuisines, but also to a varied range of F&B enterprises that cater to global palates. With its rich architectural values, this city is now being redefined as the modern age metropolitan that not only harbours modern tech and advancements, but also looks after its heritage and historical values.
Team Chromed has recently conceptualised the space for El Chico, a 60-year-old eatery in Allahabad. Dating back to 1957 as a household tradition for the El Chico family, the eatery began as a coffee shop before evolving into a multi-functional restaurant. The design of the restaurant was designated to us with the confidence of retaining its heritage. Combining the brand’s authenticity with the current trends was a challenge for the design team, which was accomplished by preserving a few of Allahabad’s documentation by displaying it throughout the staircase, including the crockery, coffee mugs, scripts and kitty party invites. All of the artwork was from the city. Keeping the sustainability factor prominent, the material used was also sourced locally, resulting in a modern twist in terms of patterns and style. Hence, the glory of the El Chico brand name was kept intact by adhering to the heritage of the structure through regional influences translated into a contemporary design language.
El Chico promotes interesting characteristics by responding to the given scenario while retaining the legacy framework. The idea behind restoring the space was to provide it with a modern look and feel, and yet maintain its heritage spirit to serve as a landmark building for the vicinity and beyond, thus boasting the narrative of a refurbished heritage architecture structure to redefine Allahabad’s glory.
Meandering through the interiors of the project, the ground floor of this eatery constitutes a bakery and sweet shop with a pastel colour motif. The first floor houses a vegetarian restaurant with a modern industrial motif adorned with sustainable elements and a myriad of hues. The colour scheme exhibited depicts grey as the primary colour, with yellow as the complementary pop, and green added through greenery to reinforce that pop of brightness. The island seating is the focal facet, with a central planter surrounded by CNC-cut jaali and a radial pattern of yellow. The counter elevation is the planter in the middle of the seating area.
To keep the overall narrative of the space flowing, a central installation of a water body forming a tree-like structure is added to the double-height room that forms a conservatory on the terrace area. The fine dining establishment required more permeable sunlight to pass through so that the shading and lighting of the interiors were more dynamic, which is achieved by strategically placing the angles. The overall colour scheme here is teal, with hints of vibrant colours in the decor, such as tan in the furniture, and crimson and deep red in the drapes and sofas to make a style statement.
Moving ahead to the terrace, the space resumes the concept from the fine dining room, with the addition of cabana-style seating to provide adequate cover. Red is used as the primary splash to complement the overall foliage and earthy atmosphere. For the flooring, a shattered stone concept is integrated to create mosaic terrazzo bands of Indian marble, followed by a diagonal pattern. Two-and-a-half-foot terracotta tiles are used for the facade, which is inspired by kinetic architecture, with a twist of local materials for an earthy vibe and the aspect of shade mechanism.
Following the essential aspects aids in the creation of a competent and sustainable future environment, resulting in the establishment of a city. The structural design, flooring design, and colour palette of the project have all been executed in a zestful manner to contribute to the contextual references of the city’s cultural influences. Chromed Design Studio’s aim is always to prioritise conceptual design, which here included a concoction of vibrancy reflected through hues, shades and colours, weaving a unique portrayal of history, heritage and legacy.
Photo Credits: Vaibhav Bhatia
Project: El Chico, Allahabad
Architect: Chromed Design Studio, New Delhi
Design Team: Abhigyan Neogi, Dev Gakhar, Chinmay Ajmani
Plot Area: 4 floors each of 3,800 sq ft
Completion: December 2021
Text by Ar. Abhigyan Neogi, Principal Architect & Founder, Chromed Design Studio