Aspinwall House is a large sea-facing property in Fort Kochi on the way to Mattancherry. 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, lemon grass oil, ginger, turmeric, spices, hides and later in coir, coffee, tea and rubber. The large compound contains office buildings, a residential bungalow and a number of warehouses and smaller outer-lying structures. A primary venue for the Biennale, Aspinwall has been loaned to Kochi-Muziris Biennale by DLF Limited in association with the Gujral Foundation.
Pepper House is a waterfront heritage property located on Kalvathi Road in between Fort Kochi and Bazar Road. The building consists of two historic ‘godowns’ (an Indian word for a dockside warehouse), one facing the street and another overlooking the waterfront. These large, two-story buildings with Dutch style clay roofs are separated by a large courtyard. These would have once been used for storing goods, waiting to be 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, gallery, studios for artist residencies and event spaces.
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.
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 here 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 Dutch occupation. 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.
Set in the heart of Ernakulam city, near Kochi’s main railway station, Durbar Hall was built in the 1850s 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.
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 and stands as a testament to the Gujarati community that made this city their home around two centuries ago.
Located at Kochangady, Mattancherry, TKM Warehouse is now the venue for co-founder Riyas Komu’s Uru Art Harbour, which he’s conceived as a centre for the arts. TKM Warehouse will also serve as the venue for the coming edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.
Kashi Art Gallery
An ancient Portuguese structure on Napier Street, formerly occupied by an Anglo-Indian family, was acquired by Kashi Art Cafe as a dedicated gallery space and centre for cultural exchange. The venue sits comfortably amidst a number of clothing stores and independent boutiques.
A bungalow set on a 3.5 acre plot, Cochin Club, formerly a colonial mansion, is now a luxury hotel with elegantly landscaped parks. For the Biennale, the narrow strip parallel to Cochin Club has served as a venue.
Kottapuram Fort once served as a strategic position for the Portuguese, who built it in 1523 (it was named Cranganore Fort then), until it was captured by the Dutch in 1663. In the 18th century, the Fort was the site of much negotiation between the Dutch and Tipu Sultan, only to be bought by the then king of Travancore Ramavarma Dharmaraja in 1789, who saw the fort as imperative to safeguarding Travancore against invasion by the Mysore ruler. Kottapuram Fort is now part of the Muziris Heritage project initiated by the Government of Kerala.