IF.BE which stands for Ice Factory Ballad Estate, is a new art and architecture space that acts as a hub for creativity, discourse and inclusiveness. The founder Kamal Malik says the acronym ‘IF.BE’ pays tribute to the location’s rich history. It also hints at the two independent words, ‘IF’ which is indicative of limitless possibilities and a sense of awe and ‘BE’ which is a counterbalance that promotes equilibrium and (re)solutions.
About light and space
As I walked into the space, the first thing that caught my eye was the peculiar-looking metal structure embedded into the floor covered with glass. And as I walked further on, a giant banyan tree stood tall in the middle of a courtyard drenched in sunlight.
The centre courtyard is enclosed with high glass walls and ceilings with a little space for the banyan tree to protrude out. The sun rays that seeped through the glass ceiling give the whole space a sense of warmth, and the sound of the leaves swaying to the wind on the banyan tree has an ASMR effect. Kamal Malik, one of the founders of IF.BE took us back to the entrance of the space and explained the concept and the idea behind the beautiful building that we were in.
Re (Making) of the Ice Factory
The space which opened up on April 17, was an old and forgotten ice factory that has been transformed by Malik Architecture into an area that contains multiple exhibition spaces, a café, a restaurant and a bar. It was launched with an exhibition curated by Arjun Malik and Parul Thacker titled Refraction: The Re (Making) of the Ice Factory. The exhibition displays how they have transformed an ice factory into a place for creativity. Each room or area has pictures displayed on the walls, revealing to us the past of the room and how they have managed to change that particular space without letting go of its past.
As we walked around the space, I noticed that a lot of objects or machinery that were used when the ice factory was functional more than a hundred years ago, were preserved and became a part of the space. Elements that were part of the old ice factory have been embedded into the floor covered with glass. Malik told me that for instance, a coil that was used when the ice factory was functional has been embedded into the building space.
In another area that we entered, which was right next to the banyan tree, was the main production area of the Ice Factory. Above us was a crane that was used to pick up large ice blocks to carry them across the room.
Ballard estate as an artwork
The next space we visited was called the ‘Cathedral’. The space has three works of art by Parul Thacker looking like plans or a map of Ballard Estate. One of the pieces were slightly elevated so that when light was thrown onto the piece, a shadow would appear onto the floor. And that shadow is the lanes in Ballard Estate, which Malik feels life needs to be brought to. Another piece next to it, which was a bit odd looking at first was once again a map of Ballard Estate. The map could be seen reflected on the brick wall once light was shone on it.
Art gallery café
After taking a walkthrough of the space, the three of us sat at the Banyan Tree Café and sipped on some coffee. The café offers a range of finger food, from salads to healthy sandwiches and desserts. Named after the massive banyan that lies in the centre, it is based on their fascination with excellent food. From growing their own greens on the terrace to partnering with farms that share their values, the cafe wants to make healthy eating more approachable and less intimidating.
I got to have a sneak peek at the restaurant and bar that is to open next month. Even though it’s work in progress, I was still stunned to see how beautiful it looked. The glass windows surrounded the top floor, lit up the room with sunlight which complimented the beautiful wooden and brick walls.
A unique space
What makes this space unique is that it is covered in natural light. During the day the space is lit up with the sun, and during night fall the yellow lights attached to the bottom of the walls bathe the space in luminescent light. IF.BE oozes with heritage and creativity. It is a welcoming space for people who wish to meet and discourse on topics that are truly relevant and to unlearn. Malik has conceived the space for performing and visual arts, or other events that suit the vibe of the space.