Design Contest – Café Library

Design the next Literary Haven in the heart of Chennai – Design contest for Aspiring Architects & Designers!


AF Madras is looking to convert an existing library into a café library with a cosy and distinctly French ambiance. If you are capable of creating an inviting space that seamlessly blends the atmosphere of a traditional and digital library with the charm and aesthetics of a French café, this contest is for you! The design should reflect attention to detail, functional design principles, offer ecological material and promote ecological transition with a strong emphasis on creating an immersive experience for visitors.

The actual library is on the ground floor but 2 options can be explored:

1. A focus on the ground floor with an outside space

2. An extension on the second floor (2 floors) with a connection from the outside space.

The idea is based on the third-place library. Conceptualized by American sociologist Ray Oldenburg in the 1980s, the “third place” refers to a place between home and work. In the America of the 50s, where urban sprawl was becoming increasingly widespread, he observed a lack of socialization. In response, he described the need to recreate social links, to meet other people and to encourage sharing: this was the creation of the concept of the ‘third place’.

The third place is neutral, accessible to all, without discrimination of any kind, and embodies equality for all individuals. It is protean: a living space accessible to all communities, a demonstration of today’s society through spaces or activities in tune with the times, sometimes a performance or games meetings, sometimes a space for learning and culture… always aspiring to be a place for informal encounters, conviviality, exchange, learning and welcome. You can come here to borrow or read a book, of course, but also to experience VR, meet friends, work together, consult the web, have fun, drink a coffee, and much more…

About Alliance Française of Madras


The Alliance Française of Madras is an independent, not-for-profit, language and cultural organization promoting Franco-Indian exchanges since 1953. Alliance Française of Madras is a cross disciplinary cultural center and a teaching center offering a wide range of French courses and cultural events. It seeks to organize activities promoting civic, social and environmental responsibility. We welcome around 2400 students a year.

About the Library, find below the types of activities we would like to offer:

List of Activities

· Virtual reality spaces: Set up virtual reality spaces where visitors can immerse themselves in virtual worlds and enjoy immersive interactive experiences.

· Coding workshops for children: Offer coding workshops for children, using age-appropriate tools and programming languages.

· Literary escape games: Design escape games based on famous novels or literary enigmas, enabling visitors to solve mysteries while discovering literature.

· Virtual book clubs: Organize online book clubs where participants can discuss their favorite books via videoconferencing platforms.

· Creative craft workshops: Offer craft workshops where participants can learn to create original objects such as notebooks, jewelry or sculptures using recycled materials.

· Interactive theater shows: Present interactive theater shows where the audience is invited to actively participate in the plot and the characters’ decisions.

· Augmented reality stations: Set up augmented reality stations where visitors can discover additional information about books, artworks or exhibits via dedicated mobile applications.

· Podcast recording studio: Set up a podcast recording studio where visitors can create their own programs and share their stories, poems or literary analyses.

· Digital art exhibitions: Organize digital art exhibitions featuring interactive artworks, multimedia installations and immersive visual experiences.

· Cultural hackathons: Organize hackathons where developers, designers and creatives come together to find innovative digital solutions linked to the promotion of culture and literature.

· Board game library: Set up a section dedicated to board games, allowing visitors to play on site or borrow games to extend the experience at home.

· Interactive puppet shows: Organize interactive puppet shows where children can interact with the characters and take part in the story.

The library should offer 6 flexible spaces:

1. Reading, cosy quiet space

2. Studying working space (tables)

3. Teenager, kids’ space

4. Digital / virtual reality space

5. Meeting space for games, conversation….

6. Outside space

Scope of Work:

Interior Design:

a. Develop a layout plan that optimizes space utilization, ensuring all spaces arrangements for students and visitors while allowing for efficient flow within the café library.

b. Select appropriate colour palettes, materials, and finishes that evoke a cosy and French-inspired ambiance. Consider warm tones, natural textures, and subtle vintage elements, keeping the art deco style.

c. Design and integrate custom furniture pieces that provide a harmonious blend of comfort, functionality, and French design elements, such as bistro-style chairs and tables.

d. Incorporate appropriate lighting solutions that create a warm and inviting atmosphere, utilizing a combination of ambient, task, and accent lighting techniques.

e. Use of ecological material

Café Area:

a. Design a functional and aesthetically pleasing small pastry display area to showcase French delicacies

b. Specify appropriate equipment and fixtures required for the café operations, such as coffee machines, display cases, refrigeration units, small food preparation areas needed

Reading books, book Displays and digital spaces:

a. Create cosy reading nooks with comfortable seating options, incorporating elements like plush armchairs, ottomans, and small tables.

b. Design book display areas that encourage exploration and discovery, incorporating shelving solutions that allow for the prominent showcasing of books while maintaining an uncluttered aesthetic.

c. Integrate French-inspired decorative elements, such as vintage bookends, literary quotes displayed on walls, or framed artwork featuring famous French authors.

Signage and Branding:

a. Develop a visually appealing and cohesive branding strategy for the library café, including the design of a unique logo, signage, and other visual elements that reflect the French theme.

b. Ensure clear and well-placed signage to guide customers to different sections, the café, restrooms, and the different areas.

Accessibility and Safety:

· Adhere to all relevant accessibility guidelines to ensure the library café is inclusive and accessible for individuals with disabilities.

· Incorporate appropriate safety measures, including emergency exits, fire suppression systems, and adherence to local building codes and regulations.

Design Requirements:

a. Participants are required to develop a comprehensive design proposal for the transformation of the given bookstore into a cosy French-inspired café bookstore, adhering to the provided specifications.

b. Designs should emphasize the integration of French design elements, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere while maintaining functionality for both café and bookstore areas.

c. Design proposals should include detailed floor plans, elevations, 3D visualizations, and any additional supporting materials that effectively communicate the design concept.

d. Use of sustainable materials and upcycling can be considered

e. One of the prerequisites will be budget. AFM is a nonprofit organisation and has a very limited budget. All events are open to all and free. So, one rule will be to be creative financially too.


Aspiring architects and interior designers are called to submit a detailed proposal including:

· Mood boards or concept sketches illustrating the French-inspired design aesthetic.

· Detailed floor plans, elevations, and 3D visualizations showcasing the proposed layout and design elements.

· Specifications and descriptions of materials, furniture, lighting fixtures, and other key design elements.

· Estimated project timeline and budget breakdown.

Submission details:

· Submissions should be submitted both as a hard copy as well as in digital format.

· Submission should include a written description (report) explaining the design concept, along with visual materials such as renderings, sketches, and mood boards. It should also include the project timeline and budget breakdown.

· The hard copy should be submitted as 3 A2 sheets indicating the design idea complete with the relevant drawings, specifications and details as outlined above including renders.

· Participants must provide accurate and complete information along with their submission.

Competition rules

The projects will be presented to the AFM committee members and AFM trustees.


a. The competition is open to currently enrolled students pursuing degrees or certifications in the fields of design, architecture and interior design.

b. Students can participate individually or in teams, with a maximum of 3 members per team.

c. This competition is open to all architecture and design schools located in the city of Chennai only, as per the given list.


· Registration should be completed by the specified deadline.

· The registration shall be done through a google form duly filled in with all particulars and should be digitally signed by the Head of Institution.

· On registration a Unique Code number will be generated for each registration. This unique Code number alone is to be quoted in both the hard copy and digital format submissions.

Note: Participants are free to visit Alliance Française premises during working hours to acquaint themselves with the site and get a briefing. Group briefing session will be announced as per requests.


· Registrations open on 08/05/2024

· Registrations will close on 25/05/2024.

· Unique Code Generation on scrutiny of registrations will be provided by 31/05/2024

· Submission deadline 20/06/2024

Evaluation and recognition

Evaluation Criteria:

a. Designs will be evaluated based on creativity, adherence to the provided specifications, functional and aesthetic qualities, and incorporation of French-inspired elements.

b. Judges will assess the feasibility of implementation, sustainability considerations, the overall potential for creating an immersive experience for library café visitors and the budget.

Intellectual Property:

a. Participants retain ownership of their design proposals. However, by participating in the competition, participants grant the organizing committee the right to showcase and promote their work for non-commercial purposes.

Awards and Recognition:

a. A panel of judges (Trustees, committee members and architects) will select the top submissions based on the evaluation criteria.

b. Awards and recognition will be given to the winning individuals/teams. A prize money of Rs 30,000/- shall be awarded for the best design. Commendation awards and certificates may also be awarded at the discretion of the jury.

c. The winning design(s) may be featured on the library’s website, social media platforms, or in promotional materials with proper attribution to the designer(s).

Conduct and Ethics:

a. Participants must adhere to high standards of academic integrity, ensuring that their design proposals are original and not plagiarized from any source.

b. Any form of unethical behaviour or misconduct will result in disqualification from the competition.

Discretionary Power:

· The organizing committee reserves the right to modify or interpret the competition rules, extend deadlines, if necessary, disqualify entries that do not comply with the guidelines, or cancel the competition in unforeseen circumstances.


· All submitted design proposals will be treated as confidential and will only be shared with the judges and relevant competition organizers for evaluation purposes.


We look forward to receiving comprehensive proposals that align with the outlined specifications. The selected designer/architect will have the opportunity to bring to life a library café that captures the essence of French charm and provides an exceptional experience for members, students and visitors as well as café enthusiasts.

For inquiries and proposal submissions, please contact [email protected].



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