Aspinwall House is a large sea-facing property in Fort Kochi, and a primary venue for the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. The property was originally the business premises of Aspinwall & Company Ltd. established in 1867 by English trader John H Aspinwall. Under his leadership, the company traded in coconut oil, pepper, timber, lemongrass oil, ginger, turmeric, spices, hides, and later in coir, coffee, tea, and rubber. The large compound contains what were once office buildings, a residential bungalow, and a number of warehouses and smaller outer-lying structures. Aspinwall has been loaned to Kochi-Muziris Biennale by DLF Limited in association with the Gujral Foundation.
Set in the heart of Ernakulam city, near Kochi’s main railway station, Durbar Hall was built in the mid-nineteenth-century by the Maharaja of Cochin to host his Royal court. In the 150 years since then, the Hall has had many incarnations. Recent extensive renovation works by the Kochi Biennale Foundation have transformed the space into an international museum quality exhibition venue.
Pepper House is a waterfront heritage property located on Kalvathi Road in between Fort Kochi and Mattacherry. The building consists of two historic ‘godowns’ (a dockside warehouse): one facing the street and another overlooking the sea. These large, two-story buildings with Dutch style clay roofs are separated by a large courtyard. At one time, the buildings would have been used for storing goods before being loaded onto ships in the harbour. The sixteen thousand square-feet Pepper House complex was renovated and currently houses a courtyard cafe, visual arts library, galleries, studios for artist residencies, and event spaces.
Towards the end of the 19th century, Aspinwall & Company began trading in coir. In 1904, the company acquired the Cabral Yard property on which they constructed a hydraulic press for coir yarn. The property gets its name from Portuguese navigator Cabral, who made the first shipment of merchandise from Cochin in 1500 AD.
Named after David Koder, a Jewish businessman who resided there with his family, David Hall is a Dutch bungalow built around 1695 by the Dutch East India Company, located on the north side of Parade Ground in Fort Kochi. It is believed that the property was used to accommodate military personnel during the seventeenth-century Dutch occupation, and was the site where the landmark colonial biological treatise, Hortus Malabaricus, was put together by colonial administrator Henrik van Rheede. Since 2007, the building has been leased by CNO India to CGH Earth, an ecologically-conscious hotel group. David Hall is currently an art gallery and cafe, and regularly hosts a variety of collateral events in the garden at the rear of the property.
Kashi Art Cafe
An old Dutch property converted into a cafe by Anoop Scaria and Dorrie Younger, Kashi Art Cafe opened in 1997 with an exhibition by C V Ramesh. Over the years since then, Kashi Art Cafe has become the hub of Kochi’s contemporary art scene. The Cafe contains a permanent collection of artworks including those of Christina Mamakos, K S Radhakrishnan, Pradeep Naik and Riyas Komu.
Kashi Town House
Kashi Town House was once a family home in the heart of Fort Kochi that has been converted into a gallery space, spread over several rooms and levels.
Uru Art Harbour
URU Art Harbour is a cultural hub situated at Kochangadi, Mattancherry, Kochi. It is a renovated warehouse space with several exhibition rooms. The building is part of a working dock. When the Biennale is not running, URU is a functioning art space that hosts and produces publications, exhibitions, talks, residencies, screenings, performances, design interventions, workshops and educational initiatives.
MAP Project Space
Lined alongside Bazar Road are structures dating back several hundred years, when the spice trade was at its peak. Leading into Mattancherry, there were built at a time when the Dutch ruled Cochin, and served as warehouses for the storage of spices. While several of them continue to be used, others remain dilapidated. The site is currently owned by Museum of Art and Photography, Bengaluru.
Just a stone’s throw away from the historical Coonan Kurish Palli, Anand Warehouse is one of several of its kind dotted alongside Bazar Road, Mattancherry. The venue is also referred to as Gujarati Warehouse, once owned and operated by members of the Gujarati community that made this city their home around two centuries ago.