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ARCHITECTURE DESIGN
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Smart cities would have to necessarily be human


centric. I would rather use the term humane cities
Rahul Mehrotra
VOLUME 32

ISSUE 4

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96
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ABOUT THE ISSUE

16

REFLECTIONS

18

UPDATES

74

80

PROFILE: RAHUL MEHROTRA


RMA Architects, Mumbai
24
32

44

Ar Rahul Mehrotra in Conversation with Ar Rajnish Wattas


Structured around Courtyards
LMW Corporate Headquarters, Coimbatore
Interplay of Steel and Glass
Visitor Centre at CSMVS, Mumbai
A Play of Planes

54

Three Court House, Alibaug, India


Book Extract

38

88

96

RESIDENTIAL DESIGN

64

Anagram Architects, New Delhi


Seaside Abode
Amchit Residence, Lebanon
BLANKPAGE Architects, Lebanon

EXPLORING DESIGN
Innovative Office Furniture

106
62

Incorporating Architectural Elements


from Rajasthan
N74, New Delhi

Contemporary homes are extravagant in natureBy Bhavesh Patel

112

Pronounced Texture
The Nest, Dumas, Surat, Gujarat
Architecture and Beyond, Surat, Gujarat

118

VISTAS
Landmark in the City
Markthal Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
MVRDV, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Spatial Expression
Orange Corporate Office, Lucknow, UP
Archohm Consults Private Limited, Noida, UP
Intersecting Volumes
Corporate Office, Milan, Italy
Maurizio Lai Architect, Lai Studio, Milan, Italy

PRODUCTS

about the issue

A N

I N D I A N

J O U R N A L

O F

A R C H I T E C T U R E

Three Court House, Alibaug,


India (Architects: RMA
Architects, Mumbai)
All drawings and visuals for the
projects and articles, unless
mentioned otherwise, are
courtesy the architects/authors.

Image
of
t he

Month

ot very many Indian architects have had the privilege to contribute so


intensely to the profession- both at the academic level and also in the
practice of architecture. Architect Rahul Mehrotra is one of those few. With
studios both in Mumbai and Boston, his involvements extend to a purposeful
contribution to education as a professor and Chair of the Department of Urban
Planning and Design at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University. His time
spread between Boston and Mumbai has given him that much more insight to
plaguing issues in planning and architecture in a developed society and one which is
now emerging as a fast paced developing one. At the same time he has translated
his focussed design approach in a number of projects that reflect his strength of
interpreting tradition with a modern vocabulary of materials and technology. His
architecture embodies communicative spaces that are enlivened with a sensitive
handling of elements of architecture to create refreshing environs with a
contemporary idiom. We carry a profile of the architect -- he shares with us his
diverse thoughts on varied issues in the profession. Also published are a few projects
of his exemplifying and innovative design methodology.
Rahul Mehrotra expresses a strong feel for social responsibility in the profession.
He points out that In India it is easy to be seduced by upper income commissions,
the architecture of indulgence and luxury, and do precious pieces of architecture.
Very early in the practice, I decided not to be limited by this path. We got involved
with a range of advocacy work which had a direct bearing on the built
environment. He has shown a respect for the context whether it be cultural or
geographical. And this gets reflected in some of his projects that we publish. Take the
example of the Alibaug house in Mumbai. The controlled scale blends it gently with
the surroundings of the village. There is natural flow in the interior spaces that
become meaningful with utility of appropriate materials with interplay of natural
light, water bodies and airy environs. His other projects too stand apart for their deft
architectural handling with a
humane spirit.
And yes, our Exploring
Design section brings you
designers who are taking
huge strides in evolving an
aesthetic elegance
combined with functionality
in the production of
office furniture.

Monument in glory - The Washington Monument at the National Mall in Washington, DC

Architecture arouses sentiments in man. The architects


task therefore, is to make those sentiments more precise

Adolf Loos

ARCHITECTURE+ DESIGN

The job of buildings is to


improve human relations:
architecture must ease them, not
make them worse...
Ralph Erskine

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Reflections

When ideas Crystallize


The installation When ideas Crystallize was designed by Bangalore-based firm Purple Turtles Lighting
Ideas Pvt Ltd for the India Design 2015 in Delhi. A giant paper crystal cave as its head that curved up to a
kind of tail that gave the installation a whale like silhouette was formed. A total of 39 different modules came
together to form an installation of 8' height, 22' length and 9' width (in feet). The modules were made out of
metal frames that were welded together and covered with banana fiber paper (crushed paper and plain
paper). The structure was self-supporting and it touched the floor at critical points and curved on the Z axis to
distribute its weight.

16

A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

Updates
Fast Track Architecture

he City of Paris has approved MVRDVs ambitious plan for


the restructuring of the mixed-use urban block Vandamme
Nord at Gat-Montparnasse in the 14th arrondissement of Paris.
Built in the 1970s by the French architect Pierre Dufau, the
building complex, comprises a shopping centre, offices, a public
library, a hotel and an underground car park. All of which will be
retrofitted so as to reintroduce the human scale to an urban
environment largely characterised by wide boulevards and
monolithic structures. In addition to the face-lift provided by a
new facade, the accessibility and programmatic identity of each
of these programmes will be improved through a total internal
reorganisation of the complex. The buildings restructuring also
foresees extending the existing commercial spaces, creating a
new office space, a new kindergarden, an expanded library, a
conference centre, as well as a number of social housing units.
Enthusiastic about the challenge, Winy Maas, co-founder of
MVRDV, said, This project is a fantastic chance to insert a little
bit of human scale into a megalomaniacal 1970s development

esigned by Dutch architectural firm


Mecanoo, Delfts new railway station
was officially opened to the public. The
station, in combination with municipal
offices and the new city hall, sits atop a
new train tunnel built in place of the old
concrete viaduct that has divided the city
in two since 1965.
The design of the station comprises a

in the very heart of Paris. We will bring order to the complex


building, making it accessible from all sides and intensifying its
use through a higher density of programmes. On its faade, the
building will display all of the activities that are going on inside.
For this we have developed a catalogue of faade elements that
are exchangeable, so that the entire ensemble can respond
flexibly to changes in use over the coming years.

vaulted ceiling that features an enormous


historic 1877 map of Delft and its
surroundings, connecting the station with
the city hall that is currently under
construction. Within the station hall, walls
and columns are adorned with a
contemporary re-interpretation of Delft
Blue tiles. The glass skin of the building is
designed to reflect the Dutch skies. The

panels of fused glass with lens-like


spheres reference a vernacular window
design that can be seen throughout the
historic city.
Throughout the design process, the
building volume has been shaved and
reformed to create a compact, highly
efficient building form. The lowered roof
lines at the corners provide a gradual
transition towards the existing small-scale
development of the Delft city centre and
the adjacent Wester Quarter. Incisions in
the glass volume form a pattern of
alleyways and courtyards, which are
inspired by the intricate structure of Delft.

Exhibition

he third edition of India Design ID


2015 recently took place in Delhi. An
initiative by Ogaan, the event is Indias
definitive and first-of-its kind design week.
The event comprised three verticals
Exhibit ID, ID Symposium powered by
Roca and ID Satellite. These three arms
brought together prominent design experts
and international design visionaries to
share their experiences, knowledge and

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

aesthetics through
exhibits, installations
and discussions.
Exhibit ID is an
exhibition space that
showcased the finest in
home decoration with
high-end brands and
designers unveiling their
latest collections. ID

Symposium powered by Roca


featured engaging speakers from
different walks of life, including
Fumihiko Maki, Giulio Cappellini,
GurjitSingh Matharoo, etc. ID
Satellite, the hip offsite vertical
discovered design districts of Delhi
with promotions, collaborations
and events across different and
special events.

Updates
Award

he annual World Architecture Festival Awards, the Oscars of


architecture, was launched formally in London. The awards
will be celebrated at the World Architecture Festival (WAF) in
Singapore this November, following three days of intensive live
presentations and judging.
Entries are invited from architects and designers for the 2015
edition. The awards are expected to attract more than 750
entries, about half of which will be shortlisted in 30 categories.
Closing date for entries is the end of May, and shortlisting will
take place in early June.
Shortlisted entrants will compete for category prizes on the
first two days of the festival. On the final day, category winners
will present again to super-juries of experienced judges, who will
decide on the world landscape, future project and completed
building of the year.
This years jurors include Sou Fujimoto (Japan), Kerry Hill
(Singapore), Manuelle Gautrand (France), Benedetta Tagliabue
(Spain) and Charles Jencks (UK/US).
In addition to the main awards, there are prizes for small

projects, use of wood and use of colour, decided by specialist juries.


Commenting on the awards, Paul Finch, director of WAF, said,
This is an exciting time for the awards, with no predictions
possible about this years result. Since our launch in 2008 with
our founder sponsor Grohe, we have had entries from about 70
countries round the world, and winners of every shape, size and
type. He added, Every year we find new talent competing with
established big names, and that is part of the attraction of the
event, not just for entrants, but for delegates too.

Competitions

aint-Gobain Glass's Transparence 2014,


the annual design competition held for
students of Architecture and Design,
recently conducted its 9th
editions Grand Finale at
Hindustan University in Chennai.
Initiated by Saint-Gobain Glass,
the event aimed at integrating the
student community, architects
and the industry.
The competition was judged
by an eminent jury comprising Ar Sanjay
Kanvinde from Kanvinde Rai and
Chaudhary Associates, Ar Sohrab Dalal

from DPA Design Plus and Ar Rohit Saxena


from Perkins Eastman. SPA of Bhopal
comprising Swadheet Chaturvedi, Vipul

Jain and Aditya Singh emerged as the


national winners in the competition. IPS
Academy of Architecture bagged the first

allinn Architecture Biennale


has announced the vision
competition Epicentre of
Tallinn to find a design solution
for intersections in the future, when self-driving cars will drive on
the city streets. The international one-stage architecture
competition invites entries till the end of May.
Tallinns central traffic junction, the Viru intersection, was
chosen as the test site. The vision competition seeks answers to the
questions how driverless cars will alter the cityscape and the public
space, and what will be the idea of the new public space.
Curated by Alvin Jrving, TAB Tallinn vision competition is

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

runner up title and of SPA of Vijayawada


stood second runner up.
Besides, the occasion witnessed the
launch of the 10th edition of
Transparence 2015 by Ar Ravi
Sarangan (Edifice). The theme for
the 2015 edition was also
launched by Padmashri Ar C N
Raghavendran. The theme will
focus on Social Mass Housing and
the edition will coincide with the
350th anniversary of Saint-Gobain.
To know more, visit:
www.saint-gobain.com

organised in cooperation with the Estonian Centre of Architecture


and Tallinn City. It invites architects, landscape architects, urbanists
and students from all those fields to propose ideas and methods
about how to improve the quality of public space in one of the
hotspots of Tallinn.
The jury, consisting of director and founder of MVRDV Winy
Maas, Tallinn City Architect Endrik Mnd and Villem Tomiste
from the Union of Estonian Architects, will judge the entries to
the competition. The winning entries will be presented at the
exhibition in the atrium of Viru Keskus shopping centre from
9th September to 4th October.
TFor further information, visit: competition@arhitektmust.ee

Updates
Trade news

rench decorative insert door panels


designer EURADIF recently showcased
their latest innovations at Fensterbau
Frontale India 2015. The company has
developed Frances extensive line of
decorative panels for PVC and ALUMINIUM
main doors.
Considering the rising demand for
customised and high-quality materials used
for home interiors in India, EURADIF
unveiled their panels for PVC1 and
aluminium entrance doors tailored for the
Indian market. Designed and manufactured in France, EURADIF
panels put at the disposal of home architects and door
manufacturers a wide range of original products easily

tylam Industries Limited, one of the


leading manufacturers & exporters of
high pressure laminates & high-tech
adhesives, has charted massive
expansion plan with an outlay of 60
crores in various segments including
laminates, exterior cladding and
exterior flooring.
The company is coming with one of
biggest 8000 ton hydraulic press of 6
X14ft and three 4x8ft complete production
line which will be first of its kind in terms

adaptable to various customers needs. The


company also showcased a PORTABLOC
aluminum main door as well as a
THERMOSTYL main door in PVC/composite
material during the exhibition.
Highlighting the upcoming milestones for
the company in India, Jean-Gabriel Creton,
CEO of EURADIF, said, We will open soon a
representative office in the country. We will
also launch an Indian version of our software
which allows private individuals, specifiers
or developers to create designed doors
according to their choice and requirements. The company has
already started establishing a network of PVC manufacturers
and joinery professionals in India.

of technology and innovation in the world


of laminates. This environment friendly
and energy conservation range will
result in low carbon emission and less
power consumption .
Satish Gupta, executive director of
Stylam Industries, said, After this
expansion the production capacity of
Stylam will increase by additional 60
lakh sheets per annum. This automated
cutting edge technology will not only
boost the quality of products but also

increases the efficiency with less human


intervention. This expertise will cater the
trends of emerging markets with new
market reach from big towns to small
villages with a world class product range
at a low cost and having more satisfied
customers worldwide.
The company is working with big
consultants and technocrats nationally
and internationally to make this project
huge success. The project is expected to
be fully operational by end of 2015.

ERA, a pioneer in the sanitary ware segment in India, has


been awarded the best mid-sized company, by Nav Gujarat
Samay and Times of India. The award was presented at a
function in Ahmedabad by Gujarats Finance Minister, Saurabh
Patel and Education Minister, Bhupendrasinh Chudasama.
The awards considered companies which are registered in
Gujarat. To shortlist the winners, inputs were taken from Centre
for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). The inputs were
caliberated on statistical and qualitative parameters by the Nav
Gujarat Samay editorial team.
A jury of eminent people comprising P K Laheri, Chinubhai
Shah and Sunil Parkeh deliberated on the inputs and created a
shortlist of five entries. Considering all the aspects, the jury then
decided on the winners, which was attested by a Delphi panel
comprising of Deepak Parekh, Bhikhu Parekh and YK Alagh.
CERA with its compounded annual growth of over 35% in the
past several years, was the winner among the mid-sized companies.

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

Accepting the award, Vikram Somany, chairman & managing


director of CERA, said, CERA will pursue its growth trajectory in
the comings years too to be ahead of its competition.

Profile
Rahul Mehrotra

Planning and urban design needs to and must


be speculative, avant garde not rear garde...

Achitecture+Design brings across a conversation between noted architect Rahul


Mehrotra and architectural critic Rajnish Wattas...

Mill Owners
Association building by
Le Corbusier, 1954.
Collage by David Wild,
juxtaposing the
modernist building
agenda in India with
the political, social and
cultural milieurepresented skillfully
and with critical edge

Rajnish Wattas (RW): A major agenda of your


work as an educator and practitioner is to
address the essential pluralism of Indian
architecture and its cities. In fact, the challenge
of your practice/activism/research has been to
evolving a theoretical framework for designing
in conditions of informal growth what you
call as the Kinetic City. What are the key
challenges of operating in this realm?
Rahul Mehrotra (RM): I got interested in
articulating the idea of the Kinetic city simply because
in Mumbai and as in many Indian cities, I saw that
over 60% of the environment and the city was
defined by a somewhat temporary occupation of
space. Thus, the city was constantly in flux and
dynamic. While this was clearly my observation, all
the text and theory to understand cities, I realised
were all premised on the assumption that architecture
was central to the imagination of urban space. Or put

Image courtesy: David Wild

Rahul Mehrotra... (1959) Rahul Mehrotra is a practising architect and educator, currently
working in Mumbai and teaching at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, where he
is Professor of Urban Design and Planning. He is also Chair of the Department of Urban Planning
and Design as well as a member of the steering committee of Harvards South Asia Initiative.
Mehrotra has written and lectured extensively on architecture, conservation and urban
planning. He has written, co-authored and edited a vast repertoire of books on Mumbai, its urban
history, its historic buildings, public spaces and planning processes. He is a member of the Steering
Committee of the Aga Khan Awards for Architecture and currently serves on the governing board
of the Indian Institute of Human Settlements. As Trustee of the Urban Design Research Institute

24

A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

another way, the static city was the preoccupation.


So my observations and writings on the Kinetic City
were really about creating a discussion for designer
on how to deal with this phenomenon or at least

Map showing the


emerging urban
landscape of India

recognise it. In the social sciences there is an


incredible amount of writing on this but often does
not speak to design, to the visual culture of our cities.
The work on ephemeral urbanism was a mere
extension of this. The study of the Kumbh Mela and
the research it generated was the crucial link. As after
applying the Kinetic City ideas to the Kumbh Mela
one saw an even broader and more expansive
landscape of large-scale temporary cities set up
around the world. This led us to develop taxonomy,
which is now the work in progress. Essentially we are
treating this as a critique of current debates on
urbanism and questioning the obsession with the
permanent solution when often our problems are
moments of transition or temporary problems.
RW: Recently the Indian Government has
undertaken a major initiative on building 100
new cities, smart cities, urban renewal projects
and going Rurban (providing urban facilities in
villages). How do you respond to this?
RM: My response to this would be one of caution.
The clearest agenda in what has been so far defined
is the idea of the rurban. Where urban amenities
are provided to rural areas. This is a critical challenge
in terms of public health but also in todays world of
connecting the urban and rural in a way that does
not necessitate in migration to urban areas. However,
on the question of smart cities I would be extremely
cautious. For example, why are we even discussing
the creation of 100 new cities? I think the challenge
we should pose to ourselves is that by the time the
Republic turns 75 we should have 100 great cities!
Now, whether this means building new towns or
upgrading the over 400 small towns is up for
discussion. Furthermore how are these resources
distributed across the geography of the country and

Image courtesy: Urban India Atlas

networked to create synergies and leverage


development in the hinterland of these cities is
another critical question. In short, I think the
declaration so far made is clearly a political one.
Unfortunately, the imagination the government has
about these smart cities is a technological fix to any
problem. To be successful these cities or initiatives to
create smart cities would have to necessarily be
human centric. I would rather use the term
humane cities over smart cities. Humane cities
where the human being is central to any imagination
of the physical form of the city. Where questions of
equity, sanitation, economic mobility, the
imagination of the public are central to the
discussion. I am afraid otherwise this smart cities
initiative is going to be one of real estate and we will
spawn a 100 more Gurgaons!
RW: How would you prioritise and calibrate the
above-mentioned initiatives, as they require
intensive capital?
RM: First of all this should be focused on small
towns mainly because these are places with the least
amount of political and real estate contestations.

(UDRI), and Partners for Urban Knowledge Action and Research (PUKAR) both based in Mumbai, he continues to be actively
involved as an activist in the civic and urban affairs of the city.
His practice, RMA Architects founded in 1990, is an architectural practice with studios in both Mumbai and Boston. The
firm has executed a range of diverse projects across India. These projects have engaged many issues, multiple constituencies
and varying scales, from interior design and architecture to urban design, conservation and planning. Led by a core group of
design associates, the studio works actively with local craftspeople to develop and refine construction details and methods of
building that are relevant, sustainable, and founded on local knowledge. By working with varied constituencies, and through a
multiplicity of modes of engagement with practice,
RMA Architects endeavours to develop and evolve culturally specific design solutions for each unique context.

ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN A p r i l 2 0 1 5

25

Furthermore, these are places with very little


planning capacity in terms of both institutions as well
as individuals. There are often not even qualified
planners or urban designers working in these towns
and furthermore these are places where civil society

the Indian scenario? Glaeser argues that


heterogeneously packed high densities are
economically more productive whats your view?
RM: I think its a meta view but his arguments
about density, etc., are bang on. However, the

is not organised in the same way in the larger cities


in India. So while these will be seemingly difficult
places to intervene they are actually the landscapes
where design can play a key role in making them
better places in ways infrastructure and urban form
can be imagined simultaneously. The mega cities
have a way of sucking up the resources without
adequate effect on account of the contestations,

problem with these meta views is they are


insensitive to the ground realities and the
despairingly terrible living conditions of what is
celebrated as economic success. While he rightly
argues that these can be solved more easily than
sprawl from an environmental perspective I am not
sure he understands their complexity and varying
nature across different cultures as well as political

corruptions and resistances to any change on account


of the scale of these urban conglomerates. Thus, I
strongly believe that the 400 small towns of India
would benefit the most from these initiatives and
also dramatically change the urban Indian landscape
in terms of a stunning decentralisation it would

systems fully. I guess for me the book lacks a


political edge.
RW: After the making of Chandigarh, the country
has not undertaken any urban experiment on
that scale; do you think there are still some
enduring lessons to be drawn from Le Corbusiers

create. In fact this is an opportunity to turn around


Indias urban landscape with the least investments. If
you think about all the towns in Europe and the
United States we admire they are never bigger than
100 thousand people if at all that large. Size is
important and in todays world networking many
smaller towns to create lager metropolitan
conglomerations is a wiser strategy one that
communication technology now allows easily.
RW: Do you support the central agenda of
Edward Glaesers book Triumph of the City in

city and its architecture?


RM: Absolutely! I think we judged Chandigarh too

Photo credit: Rahul Mehrotra

The emergent urban


scape of Indian cities
comprise two worlds
intertwined in close
proximity in the same
space. These adjacencies
of differing urban is
emblematic of the
contemporary urban
condition in India

quickly. It was analysed to death within the first


five years of it being built actually while it was
being built. I visited Chandigarh last year after 20
years and I was stunned how it had matured as a
city, as an urban system and how its architecture
had weathered all rather beautifully. Of course,
there are some systemic problems with the basic
design of Chandigarh in the way it lacks public
transportation as being central to its imagination

Photo credit: Rahul Mehrotra

and it creates segregations of classes, etc. But in


terms of being an armature, it is robust and
provides a fairly high quality of life to its citizens.
But most importantly the fact that its citizens are
proud of the city speaks volumes for the power of
architecture, planning and urban design. The lesson
that one would extract as being relevant is just the
simple idea that planning and urban design needs
to and must be speculative, avant garde not rear
garde not respond to problems, or follow growth
but open up new imaginations of how we can live
speculate about the future.
RW: As mentioned in your book Architecture in
India since 1990, the driving force of Impatient
capital is to ape skylines of Shanghai, Dubai or
Manhattan in developing nations like India. Will
that not flatten regional identities, impoverish
indigenous cultures and lead to the loss of
vernacular and traditional styles?
RM: Completely! And thus for architects in India
this is going to be a central challenge. How do we
resist this impatience of capital? In todays
globalised world, we cant do without capital but
how we make it patient will push our imagination.
When capital resides in foundations and intuition it
automatically becomes patient and then produces
the most interesting architecture. But when its
fancy free and thrown around by corporations,
often-global corporations, all its concerned about
is a quick physical manifestation, which allows it to

Architecture is not the


spectacle of the India
city nor does it even
comprise the single
dominant image of the
city. In contrast,
festivals such as Ganesh
Chathurthi and many
more, have emerged
as the spectacles and
their presence on the
everyday landscape
pervades and
dominates the popular
visual culture of
Indian cities

realise its value. Thus corporate offices, 5 star


hotels and developer led housing projects are all
characterised by speedy construction. Dry modes
of building that can be erected instantly but then
also begin to loom large like their counterparts in
other landscapes created by the impatience of
capital such as Shanghai, Singapore and Dubai. So
to answer your question more directly: I would say
some forms of development and some programs
are more susceptible to the impatience of capital
and the limitations it poses on architectural
production. Others allow and support architectural
innovation in interesting ways. The challenge for us
as architects in India is to recognise this and then
find appropriate strategies to make relevant
architecture in both conditions.
RW: Do you discern any major creative surge or
ideology that is propelling architecture world
over? Or are we now in an era of celebrity
architects with their iconic projects, rather than
any dominant global ism?
RM: The iconic projects, and here I would include
weekend homes for the rich, are all about an
architecture of indulgence. Naturally, museums or
more broadly cultural institutions and weekend
homes are conditions where capital is a little more
patient and so they become venues for innovations,
somewhat. But they are essentiality about luxury for
a minuscule few. The elite in different countries now
establish their own status through these commissions

ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN A p r i l 2 0 1 5

27

and communicate to each other so to speak through


these projects. Architects have been completely
seduced by this cultural condition! These commissions
have become part of a kit for globalisation. The iconic
projects and even the star architect culture
perpetuated by several architectural prizes are really
detrimental for the profession in terms of the message
they send out to young practitioners in terms of the
detachment of architects from society. Architects no
longer take the risks of doing commissions where
surplus of capital does not exist and where failure is
possible. The profession is caught up too much in
self-aggrandisement.
RW: While conserving Modern architectural
heritage (places like Chandigarh and
Ahmedabad) is a major concern with architects in
India and other developing countries, the
concerned stakeholders do not connect with its

complex question and one that has to do with a


worldwide tendency in the postcolonial world for
indigenous identities to surface. This is a
reconciliation societies around the world that
suffered from colonisation are trying to reconstruct.
In some case it amounts to kitsch or literally
revivals, in other cases a construction of new
identities. In the book what I pointed out was that
in India this tendency is on the up swinging and
some of the largest commissions being executed
and built in India are employing ancient imagery.
These are projects that have deep social
transformation agendas, large budgets, extremely
committed patrons, but sadly no architects
involved. This speaks volumes of what we as a
profession think is important and where our
energies are focused to what end? I am not sure?
RW: The sweep of your work is very wide-angled

value easily. In fact, in your book you cover the

ranging from corporate projects to making a low

stream of counter-modernism with resurfacing

cost colony for 100 elephants and their mahouts!

of the ancient in Indian cities. Any thoughts?

And also so much of non-governmental

RM: I think there are several questions embedded


in this question. The first is the question of
conservation and the detachment to our modern
heritage. The answer to that is a simple one. I think
aesthetic modernity arrived in India before social
modernity and this disjuncture is one our
generation has grown up with. Thus its very hard
to develop a narrative that seamlessly connects
people to this modern heritage or gets people
excited about something thats abstract and was
intended, by Nehru as a neutralising instrument
one which invented an identity for a complex and
extremely plural cultural landscape. The second
question is about revival tendencies. This is a

organisational (NGO) projects are for social


causes. What are the big lessons/quintessential
insights of working in such diversity?
RM: For me its been important to engage with a
range of problems that are relevant to the societies
we work in. In India it is easy to be seduced by upper
income commissions, the architecture of indulgence
and luxury, and do precious pieces of architecture,
etc. Very early in my practice I decided not to be
limited by this path. Thus as a way of connecting with
what we saw as a broader range of questions,
contingent on the profession to address, we got
involved with a range of advocacy work which had a
direct bearing on the built environment so to speak.
Over time the model of practice we evolved was one
of cross subsidy where our projects for upper
income clients begin to subsidise our advocacy or
research work. Where we can engage with social
projects on our own terms and these are, sort of
subsidised by the other projects, which are propelled
by easy access to capital. So to answer your question
more pointedly, the lessons that are important for me
is that by being open to engage with a range of
projects one has a better pulse on the place, its
evolving culture and its social reality. The other is that
its immensely satisfying aspect is that one is not
making architecture for architects but struggling to
make places that are generally better for inhabitation.
Whether this is through engaging with conservation
projects or advocacy to recycle land or simply
taking on a project for poorer communities which is
often not a financially viable option. This notion of
an overall balance sheet without looking at each

Photo credit: Rahul Mehrotra

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

Kumbh Mela settlement


- an ephemeral
Mega city!

project as an exercise in fetishism of some sort is


immensely satisfying.
RW: You have made a huge contribution to the
conservation of architectural heritage in Mumbai,
how do you view the current pressure for
increasing permissible FAR in Indias financial
capital to fund its urban renewal and does the
city require special considerations?
RM: This is myopic thinking by the politicians in
conjunction with the developers in the city two
professions or occupations, as we know that have
really morphed into one! What we are living in is the
speculative city, one where speculation about land
values trumps all considerations. Naturally this
approach attracts capital and panders to its
impatience, etc., but wrecks havoc for the city and its
fabric, memory, etc. For me conservation is merely a
planning instrument to be used by society to
modulate the rate of change in the built
environment. Some societies use this strategically,
others do not. I think Mumbai could and should be

mushrooming of privately run schools of


architecture here? What steps can be taken to
enhance their academic standards?
RM: The mushrooming of schools in India is
indicative of the great demand to study architecture.
Unfortunately, the capacity to man these schools
just does not exist and this is going to be a massive
challenge for architectural education in India.
Education is a complicated question. I for one only
started teaching 14 years ago. Till then I had not
taught for a day. Something I have always felt
strongly about is that teaching has the dimension of
nurturing and this cannot be taken casually.
Architects sometimes come in and out of the US as
well as an Indian academy and teach for a term here
and there. I think this is a dangerous practice as it
defranchises the students and perpetuates the star
architect system mystifying the profession further.
Inequity is going to be
the greatest challenge
for planning in India

Photo credit: Rahul Mehrotra

more aggressive about resisting this mindless


transformation. In my view Mumbai needs to
become bolder in its planning imagination and
engage with metropolitan imaginations of its future
and not these involutionary gestures of making the
same limited space susceptible to malfunction on
account of its internal complexity.
RW: As the Chair of the Department of Urban
Planning and Design at the prestigious
Graduate School of Design (GSD), Harvard
University and someone equally connected to
the Indian academia, how do you view the

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

Education has to be taken seriously and needs a kind


of commitment that I am not seeing enough of in
India. Naturally that is not to say there are no
committed educators; there are dozens of them but a
drop in terms of the massive demand from the new
schools of architecture mushrooming everywhere. As
a start we need to educate teachers before we can
ramp up our capacity to teach.
RW: You are a global, long-strider of diversity
blending academics with practice (teaching in
the richest democracy of the world and
practising in the largest but one of the poorest)
writing books, researching on Kumbh Mela popup-city and designing for corporates. How do
you manage your professionally diverse, eclectic
and nomadic life?
RM: Its truly a schizophrenic existence. But is that
not the condition of the world today where all sorts
of contradictory conditions coexist? My interest is
really to see reconciliation. To blur the binaries that
we have tended to set up to understand the world.
For me architecture is about constructing spatial
imaginations that blur these divisions that allow
transgressions and create synergies that make
people collaborate or at least makes different
constituent groups become aware of each other.
Sometimes architecture cannot go beyond making
gestures of equity, of reconciliation of these blurs
that I refer to. Sometimes these illusions are a
necessary beginning where at least the problem is
manifested in explicit terms.
Rajnish Wattas is the former principal of Chandigarh College of
Architecture, currently distinguished professor at the Surya
School of Architecture. He is a well known writer and
architectural critic, and has written numerous publications.

vitra-india.com

facebook.com/VitrAGlobal

twitter.com/VitrAGlobal

Profile
Rahul Mehrotra

32

A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

Structured around Courtyards


Project: LMW Corporate Headquarters, Coimbatore
Architects: RMA Architects, Mumbai

he LMW (Lakshmi Machine Works) Corporate Office


building in Coimbatore is structured around three
courtyards, each varying in scale. The entrance courtyard
is the most public from which you ascend to the more secluded
inner courtyards. Therefore, the six large offices that cater to
maximum traffic and visitors were arranged around the first
courtyard. The second courtyard has a private entrance for the
directors of the company (who are located on the upper floor)

as well as the cafeteria, conference facilities and other


functions. The third courtyard is even more intimate in scale with
the boardroom and directors area, and this overlooks all three
courtyards. These spaces are placed such that they provide a vista
through the building, establishing the idea of centrality and a
clear axis along which the various components of the building
are organised while also respecting the privacy gradient that is
necessary of the organisation.

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33

1
4

SITE PLAN

The inner courtyards of the building contain water


bodies. This water is circulated to humidify the space for cooling
an ideal device for the hot dry climate of Coimbatore, which lies
in the rain-shadow of the Nilgiri Hills, though in every other
aspect very much a part of the tropics. Furthermore, as the
building is never more than one office thick, cross-ventilation
and air-circulation, coupled with the humidification of air, cools

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

1
2

1. OFFICE
2. TOILET

3. SERVICE
4. COURTYARD

SECTION

ELEVATION

ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN Ap r i l 2 0 1 5

35

the building very efficiently. Local bricks with plaster and a clay
tile roof were the primary building materials that were sourced
in and around the city. The blue granite for the flooring is also a
local material and the wastage strips resulting from the dressing
of the stone were salvaged and used to create ripples in the
waterfall that connects the two water bodies.

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

Contemporary artists were specially commissioned to design


the building elements, such as railings, gates, trellises and
installations in the double height spaces. The client is one of the
largest manufacturers of machine tools, and has enormous scrap
metal wastes. Using this scrap, artist Yogesh Rawal, in
collaboration with Rajeev Sethi, created an array of screens and
trellises that not only secure the building but also facilitate the
movement of air and light. The synthesis of these traditional
elements with a contemporary sensibility was a broader design
concern that was addressed in the articulation of the architecture
of the building itself. Designed and built in the first few years
after India liberalised its economy, this corporate building was a
critique and resistance to the numerous glass clad towers that
were proliferating the urban Indian landscape in response to
constructing an image for India as an important player in the
global economy. Here, the architecture attempts to appropriate
a traditional vocabulary and spatial sensibility to construct a new
type for a programme of a corporate office which has real
historic precedent in the architectural tradition of the region..

FactFile
Client: Laxmi Machine Works Ltd
Design team: Rahul Mehrotra, Sanjiv Bajaj, Ajay Mirajgaoker
Consultants: John Mech-El Technologies, Sharad Shah, D R Bellare, Rajeev Sethi
Built-up area: 8,000sq m
Year of completion: 1997

Profile
Rahul Mehrotra

Interplay of Steel and Glass


Project: Visitor Centre at CSMVS, Mumbai
Architects: RMA Architects, Mumbai

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN Ap r i l 2 0 1 5

39

he visitor centre is located at the entrance of the


Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS),
formerly the Prince of Wales Museum, a Grade-I heritage
structure in Mumbai. The contemporary structure expands
upon the footprint of a previously existing multipurpose hall,

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

and is a part of an expansion plan for this prestigious urban


landmark. The centre fulfils various programmatic functions,
ranging from the integration of baggage collection and storage,
to ticketing and security, as well as a museum shop, two
hundred seat auditorium and restrooms.

7
7

4
8

FLOOR PLAN

1. BAGGAGE KIOSK
2. SECURITY CHECK
3. TICKET KIOSK
4. MUSEUM SHOP

5. MULTIPURPOSE HALL
6. CAFETERIA
7. TOILET
8. VERANDAH

ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN Ap r i l 2 0 1 5

41

SECTION

ELEVATION

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

A lightweight, stainless steel clad elliptical roof creates a


covered verandah for circulation, integrating disparate visitor
programmes into a consolidated and modest, yet
contemporary form. Glass and metal surfaces exist as a visual
counterpoint to stout basalt stone of the local heritage
structures. Reflective material planes create a paradoxical
visual poetry in which archaic forms of the adjacent museum
are recast and distorted in a new perspective. The predefined footprint is organically punctured by existing trees
that project through openings in the roof, yielding localised
deviations in the otherwise low-key scale spaces. Integration
of natural textures with modern means and materials further
expands the defining narrative of the centre, that of a
culturally meaningful intervention within a monumental
historic context.

FactFile
Client: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya
(formerly Prince of Wales Museum)
Design team: Rahul Mehrotra, Robert Stevens
Consultants: Vijay K Patil & Associates, Opolis Architects
Contractors: Likproof India
Built-up area: 1,000sq m

ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN Ap r i l 2 0 1 5

43

Profile
Rahul Mehrotra

A Play of Planes
Project: Three Court House, Alibaug, India
Architects: RMA Architects, Mumbai

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

he project is conceived as a series of similar but varied


modules that could be constructed incrementally. The
use of discrete modules allows the form of the house
to conform to, and take advantage of, the unique shape of
the site. By restricting the height to one floor, the house is
able to blend in with its more humble surroundings. The

incremental nature of the plan breaks down the scale and


mass of the house to relate to the adjacent village. This is
contrary to most weekend homes in the area that consolidate
space in a large villa-like form. The approach of
disaggregating form is a model that could be used for middle
class families whose economic condition forces incremental

ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN Ap r i l 2 0 1 5

45

SECTION

46

A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

10

11

12

10

8
10

1. ENTRANCE PORCH
2. LIVING ROOM
3. KITCHEN
4. DINING ROOM
5. DEN
6. GUEST ROOM
7. BATHROOM
8. BEDROOM
9. UTILITIES
10. COURTYARD
11. POOL
12. COVERED VERANDAH

GROUND FLOOR PLAN

investments in their homes. A small outbuilding at the entry of


the site, constructed with the same formal and material palette
as the house, contains a clinicas the owner of the home is a
well-known medical practitioner. Adjacent to the clinic are
staff residences, and together these two programmes create a
social interface and soft threshold with the village.
Articulation of materials further breaks down the scale of

the house, with a heavier base in locally sourced basalt stone


and an upper portion of lighter masonry materials, including
an inwardly sloping Mangalore tile roof. Specific detailing,
including large splayed windows are finished in handcrafted
copper. The three modules that comprise the house are
connected via wooden walkways bounded by clear glass
panels, further accentuating the independent identity of each

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47

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

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49

ELEVATION

module. The roofline features minimal copper flashing,


which in addition to serving as a waterproofing element
creates a visual highlight when caught by the sun.
Each of the modules contains programmatic elements that
are organised around an exterior courtyard. Large sliding glass
doors can be opened to connect the inside and outside,
allowing the living spaces to expand into the courtyard. The
spaces are ordered by a privacy gradient, becoming more
private with distance from the entry. Furthermore, each module
can be closed off from the rest of the house as and when

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

needed. The bedroom wing is collapsible, such that it can serve


as one large family room or alternatively with a series of
sliding doors individual rooms with privacy for each person.
While the materials used are minimal and frugal, and based
on local availability, they coalesce in rich configurations.
Through the use of simple materials and varied textures, the
quality of light is modulated to highlight and enhance each
materials inherent richness. Tinted panes of glass filter squares
of colourful light, which move through the space during the
course of the day. Reflections of the water and other surfaces
provide dynamic light into shaded areas. The combination of

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

a basic geometric formal language, constructed and


accentuated using modest materials, creates unique
atmospheric qualities depending on the space, time of day and
season of the year.
FactFile
Design team: Rahul Mehrotra, Robert Stevens
Consultants: Aaryan Devcon Pvt Ltd, Vijay K Patil & Associates
Contractors: Impex Engineers
Built-up area: 700sq m
Year of completion: 2014

Profile
Rahul Mehrotra

Emergent Landscapes
This is an extract from the book Architecture in India since 1990, authored
by architect Rahul Mehrotra

t is here that the notion of cultural significance is of


importance, where culture and place seminally
influence the production of architectureespecially
in the face of globalisation. In fact, over the last two
decades, starting in the 1990s, the discussion of
architecture in India has witnessed popular notions such
as context, genius loci, sense of place, vernacularism,
regionalism and heritage conservationall informing in
some way this all-encompassing notion of cultural
significance. When viewed from this perspective,
architecture is perceived to be culturally significant in so
far as it embodies a definable differencetypically, the
product of a distinct society, history and geographic
condition. In short, it is representative of a particular

Book

Architecture in India since 1990


Authors

Rahul Mehrotra
Publisher

Pictor Publishing Pvt Ltd


Pages 312
ISBN 978-81-920432-0-7

culture. Unfortunately, more often than not these


trajectories between identity and culture rarely intersect.
Identity is discussed in terms of the discovery, rather
than the potent possibilities inherent in constructing or
inventing it. Cultural significance in a pluralistic society
like India will be ever evolving and transforming to
continually encompass changing aspirations and needs,
as well as to respond to new confrontations. Only
through this process of recognising the kinetic nature of
cultural significance will architecture respond to

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

contemporary realities and experiences and be truly put


to the service of emerging aspirations. Discerning and
understanding identity in this way will broaden our
perceptions, enabling us to encompass and engage with
reality beyond its formal readings through the
mainstream of architectural production. This reading will
be more open than before to other processes of
architectural production, and to the multiple identities
that are emerging or made manifest through varied
practices. Thus, for any exploration concerned with the
contemporary landscape in India, it is imperative to
represent the multiplicity of architectural production in
that context. It is precisely in the multifaceted nature of
production processes that we might find clues about the
form and nature of the emergent architectural landscape
in Indiathe new practices that are responding to the
contemporary.1
These emerging practices are in fact the indicators of
the architectural landscapes that we can anticipate in the
future, as they represent issues that society in India aspires
to as well as patronises. Moreover, such models of
architectural practice can easily be seen as a response to
these needs. Whatever form these practices take, they
strive for authenticity and identity while attempting to
resolve the monumental complexity and cultural dynamics
of India. Although the nature of these responses is diverse,
four distinct patterns of practice have become evident as
being emblematic of the divergent approaches emerging
to give expression to contemporary societal aspirations in
India. These are: the practice of constructing global
identities; the practice of regionalism; the alternative
practice, which recognises the presence of the subalterns,
or the unrepresented voices and communities in society;
and a pattern of architectural production based on a sort
of counter-modernism, which thrives on the revival of the
ancient and closes the loop (on this range of practices)
through its single-minded resistance to the global
aspirations of the nation.2

Global Practice
In todays India, rocketing levels of consumption
spurred by a rapidly increasing and economically mobile
middle classare driving the construction of a new
landscape of global derivates, which constitute images
of globalisation. Given this condition, when capital
arrives in such an environment it is expected to take on a
particular character and is supported by freeways,

View of the pagoda looking towards the Gorai creek


Surrounded by dense vegetation, the built form is modelled on
the Shwe Dagon Pagoda of Myanmar, which preserves the nonsectarian Vipassana meditation practice. The building is situated
at the edge of the city but is visible for miles, thus exerting a
presence in the landscape of Mumbai

shopping malls, new corporate centres and global


suburbs. The pattern of architectural practice concerned
with the construction of these global identities is largely
a corporate one, and its influence is today probably one
of the most visible in the public realm. Assuming a
sophisticated building industry, this pattern of practice
communicates its design intentions through a welldetailed set of instructions and documents that are
translated into buildings. The practice is usually
organised in the form of a large firm with in-house
specialisation and services. Although this pattern thrives
on client confidence to deliver competent and
predictable products, it perpetuates the rigid landscape
of global architecture devoid of any responses to the
local setting and social milieu. In the recent past, with
the acceleration of Indias economic liberalisation,
several Asian, American and European corporate
architectural firms have begun to build in India, further

perpetuating this pattern of construction as well as the


images that go with it. Curtain-wall-glazed, metal-clad
faades; central air-conditioning; and an emphasis on
providing adequate parking, security systems and
numerous other such features, combined with the
overarching sense of total containment, make these
implants recognisable in the Indian landscape.
This pattern of global practice has been patronised by
multinational corporations and developers and, starting in
the mid-1990s, by the government as wellusually for
their financial institutions. Similarly, given the boom in
software exports the information technology industry has
been a large emerging patron of this global architecture.
Software campuses in the outlying areas of Hyderabad,
New Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai are becoming sites for
the manufacture of this imagery, which is rapidly being
emulated by smaller operators across the country. This
architectural response is desperately trying to seek a
dialogue with its client base in the United States or Europe
rather than establish any connection with its locality. Glassclad buildings of over-articulated forms, all held together
by (water-consuming) manicured lawns, are the form of
these campuses.3
The quantity of such architecture is increasing as
globalisation gains a foothold in India, and its impact on
the professionas well as peoples perceptions of it,
perpetuated through the mediais immense. Projected
to make India appear more efficient and competent, this
representation also makes Indian architecture look
similar to manifestations of globalisation elsewhere in
the world. However, the limitations of architecture in
these circumstances are only too evident: a predictability
and detachment of the built form from its ambient
environment, a divorce from place and community, and
an indifference to the imperatives of tectonic innovation
and material resources. The resulting gated communities
and privately initiated housing projects are emblematic
of the emerging global suburbs characterising the
landscapes of Indias post-liberalised economy. The
manufacturing of global identities is also patronised by
the diaspora Indian community, who have become a
significant economic force as a result of the
governments new liberal policies that permit the easy
flow of funds and the legalised purchase of property by
foreign investorswith those of Indian origin receiving a
special status and incentives.4
Historically, or at least since the country gained
independence, work in the Indian private sector has
always been small scale, focusing on artesian practice or a
boutique-like approach. This was a natural outcome of the
larger scale of work, whether it was institutional or
housing, being delivered directly by the government
through its own design agency.5 In the socialist economy,
any large private sector establishment was equated with

ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN Ap r i l 2 0 1 5

55

capitalism, and consequently, was commercially and


morally on the fringe of societal acceptability. As a result,
India was ill prepared for large-scale global practice as the
country has had no tradition of this form of working. Thus,
no substantial tradition or capability existed in the
profession until the 1990s that would permit responding
to large-scale infrastructure or building projects. With the
sudden opening up of the economy, firms from Singapore,
Europe and the United Sates took the lead in bidding for
the new commissions that accompanied the liberalisation

beyond its modernist roots to respond to the locale.


Today, this form of practice does not reject modernism
but rather the new form of internationalism perpetuated
by the corporate pattern of practices in the face of
globalisation, and seeks to resist these flows on their
terms. In fact, regionalists see the importance of
modernism as a mechanism to view tradition anew. They
recognise that modernism demands a respect for the
inherent qualities of building materials, expressiveness
of structure, the functional justification for form and the
subtle integration of the icons and textures of the larger
landscape in which they are set. Regionalists clearly see
nationalism as being separate from the concerns of the
region, which is their context. Their endeavour is to
create a distinct identity without resorting to clichs or
literal references.
The chief patrons of the regionalist approach are the

Facade detail of womens hostel Curved surfaces increase the structural stiffness
of the facade, but also create wonderful diffused and changing light patterns
through the jail, or screen wall

of the economy and the processes of its globalisation.


Often the first capital that arrived was foreign capital, from
investors who brought their own architects to design the
form it took on the ground. These, often large,
corporations were capable of deftly and swiftly responding
to the impatience of capital as well as traversing the
obstacles on the ground through their confidence,
detachment and disengagement from local politics. This
situation introduced a new cultural paradigm for the
profession in India, with the bulk of indigenous firms
aspiring to remake themselves throughout the 1990s in
the form of corporate large-scale architectural offices.
Regional Modernism
A counterpoint to the corporate model of practice is
posed by the regionalist approach, which has evolved

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

various cultural and social institutions as well as private


bodies (e.g. schools, resort hotels and private homes).
In addition to institutional buildings, mass-scale housing
was very much in the realm of engagement of the
regionalist architects until the government began to
patronise and produce social housing. Since the
liberalisation of the economy, this area has been
squarely pre-empted by the corporate pattern of
practicea contentious issue in the architecture
profession in India, and perhaps globally. However,
regionalist architects continue to build socially and
climatically responsible projects within this model of
practice. Despite patronage for previously governmentcontrolled projects transferring from the public to the
private sector, regionalist practice seeks to retain the
social and environmental commitment of these
programmes. As a result, these practices constitute
centres of local resistance, which produce alternative
modernities within the overarching narrative of
globalisation. In other words, while their patronage has
shifted their ideals remain.
Alternative Practices
The notion of the architect as the custodian of the
vernacular traditions of a region extended the
regionalists approach. This model emerged in India in
the 1970s as a counterpoint to modernism and the
perceived elimination of tradition that the modernist
project implied. This model first manifested itself in the
form of the architect as craftsperson, working directly
with the builders, more or less eliminating drawings as a
medium by which to communicate design intentions.
The buildings being constructed by these practitioners
display an energetic adoption of local materials and
vernacular building practices. This approach constitutes a
genuinely participatory process, with the craftspeople
and builders making the bulk of the decisions. The

flexibility in design intentions and open-endedness in


these cases, where the final product is determined by

corporate sector in a benevolent mood (trusts, foundations,


etc), but stem or originate more usually with NGOs,

the construction process, facilitated the easy


incorporation of symbols and icons and also linked this

charitable trusts, and similar patrons. In fact, these


practitioners reject certain sources of patronage, such as

architecture to the larger religious and cultural traditions


of a region. Non-Government Organisations (NGOs),

developers and real estate speculators, and treat


technologies of mass production (e.g. reinforced cement

cultural institutions and intellectuals are often the chief


patrons of this mode of practice.

concrete, glass and steel) with suspicion.


The most frequently recurring theme in this model of

In the 1990s, with the onslaught of globalisation and


the marginalisation and displacement that ensued from its
arrival in the altered economy, this model of practice reenergised itself. Today, it encompasses architect-activists
and practitioners who have consciously chosen to be more
reflective and consider the consequences of their actions as
well as the ways in which they can effectively counter
global flows that marginalise both tradition and people.
These practitioners enter into a potentially more fulfilling
relationship with a site, its history, the community of users
whose needs they address and the members of the
workforce who are their collaborators. Yet these
practitioners are viewed with great suspicion by
mainstream architectsperhaps because they challenge the
more customary models of professional practice. In fact,

A typical glass clad corporate office - the symbol of global architecture

they focus on experiments and subversions that are carried


out at the margins of conventional practice. By electing to
work at the periphery of the prevailing model, these
alternative practitioners have declared their moral response
to the forces of globalisation. Their approach with respect
to both patronage and technology, is pioneering; their
projects may occasionally be commissioned by the state or

practice is the exploration of alternative technologies


and construction methods that are often experimental in
nature and highly innovative. Moreover, attempts to
engage technology and building processes with
community participation aims to rescue architecture
from formal production processes and weave it
decisively into the fabric of the lived experiences of their
users. It further acts as an important counterpoint to the
protocol-driven corporate pattern, emphasising intimacy
of scale, direct involvement in the building and an
activists preoccupation with political and civic issues
that impinge on architecture. These practitioners
represent an argument for architectural diversity and an
acknowledgement of the differences that are critical to
the evolution of relevant architecture. Furthermore, the
recognition of human creativity acquires special meaning
in the age of atomising privatism. This access to a wider
base of skills and concerns is especially important in the
face of globalisation, which has reduced the character of
the built form to a thin veneer of glamour.
Although operating at an often limited scale, this
model of practice is entrenched in its socio-economic
setting. It incorporates local social networks into the
construction process, and offers cost-effective solutions.
The latter often involve the conversion of social assets into
financial ones, in terms of the use of local labour and
sourcing of materials. Unencumbered by aesthetic
concerns, the resultant buildings are often designed and
located with a looseness that permits a degree of
flexibility in terms of materials and the building process.
This mode of practice has seen popular support among
institutions, NGOs and intellectuals, producing as a result a
significant amount of buildingyet it lacks the cohesion in
physical articulation emphasised by the regionalists, and is
often reduced to caricatures of local icons and images.
Thus, although it may appear to extend traditions and
attempt to express economies of means its literal visual
nature often subverts rather than enhances vernacular
traditions, and it can lack the aesthetic robustness that
renders the genuine vernacular timeless. However, and
more importantly, this model of practice demonstrates
new directions and interpretations for sustainable design
in the Indian context.
Counter-modernism
Simultaneously, an emerging phenomenon has

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perpetuated a model or pattern of practice that is


facilitating the resurfacing of ancient Indian building
traditionsnamely, the master craftsmen as decipherers
of ancient texts and scriptures. This resurfacing of the
past is a growing phenomenon, with numerous temples
and an entire range of institutional buildings being built
by these practitioners. In addition to religion-driven
fundamentalism, the quest for greater economic
mobility has triggered a growing interest in ancient
treatises, as industrialists and the business community in

forging of its own identity. In short, it is challenging the


inherent pluralism that has hitherto been integral to the
identity of the nation.
This model manifests itself in two clear ways. The first
is the construction of religious buildings, often employing
ancient imagery as a natural expression of the
fundamentalism that has grown to coincide with the
process of globalisation. These temples are built by master
craftsmen (often a hereditary position).6 The thousands of
smaller temples and mosques appearing across urban and
rural India are examples of the fervour with which this
counter-modernity has been asserting itself on the
countrys architectural landscape. Furthermore, an entire
landscape of faith-based architecture is also
simultaneously exerting its presence, wherein new forms
of expression are attempted but infused with inspiration
from familiar ancient imagery. The second way in which
this counter-modernity is manifesting itself is the
amazing resurrection of a belief in Vastuor the sacred
rules of building. Much like feng shui, Vastu probably
had its roots in geomancy and was later codified in

Le Corbusiers greatest impact was that he instantly solved the


debate between revivalists and modernists (the modernists
won). His progressive social ideals and architectural ideas fit in
neatly with Nehrus ambitions for India. For almost two decades,
Le Corbusiers work served as a model for an independent
democratic India.

India are seeking refuge in the security of ancient props


wherein pre-industrial, and even primitive, images are
confidently labelled as integral to regional identity.
These trends not only constitute clear strains of
resistance to the modern identity, but are also symbolic
of the collision course that religious chauvinism has
embarked upon with the integrative mechanisms of
globalisation, creating a situation in which communities
are concerned about the threat to their very identities
as well as their autonomy and freedom to dissent. This
phenomenon challenges the very foundations of the
Indian nation state, and its long-established ability to
absorb external influences and integrate them into the

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religion. Today, specialised practitioners hold the power


of interpretation and have turned Vastu into a full-blown
practice.
The rise of the interest in Vastu coincides rather
accurately with the liberalisation of the Indian
economy in the late 1980s and early 1990sjust
when global flows were sweeping across the Indian
landscape. Today, most middle- and higher-income
families (especially in the southern states of India)
would claim to follow Vastu principles in the design of
their habitat. Although it has no particular or specific
physical expression, the teachings of Vastu are often
limiting in what they permit. These rules determine
the disposition of rooms in a plan as well their
topological relationships in terms of the articulation of
the lowest and highest locations on a site. The rules
further micromanage the design in terms of door
locations, directions of staircases and the placement of
water bodies. Interestingly, these tenets are codified
with a certain abstraction that is not limiting to the
aesthetics of the building itself. The practice of Vastu and
its popularity are clearly bringing a new conservatism to
the realm of architecture and the innovations of form,
without necessarily challenging the emerging
vocabulary and imagery of global identities. Yet its
practitioners and patrons are setting specific rules
for the operation of Vastu, thereby localising the
spirit of global flows and constraining its operation,
thus implicitly resisting the universalising effects
of globalisation.
Conclusion
India seems to be experiencing the emergence of

polarities or extreme positions taken by corporate


aspirations: the assertion of global identities on the one
hand and the resurfacing of the past on the other, with
the attitudes of regionalism and subaltern expression
poised in between. These are not merely models of
practice, but are also indications of the cauldron that
constitutes the emerging built environmentnamely, the
inherent multiplicity of identities simultaneously
emerging on the Indian landscape in the face of
globalisation. From this churning, a celebration of fluid
identities seems to have emerged rather than an
assertion of the pure and the indigenous or the
complete capitulation to global flows. Interestingly, these
identities often coexist simultaneously, creating a unique
landscape of pluralism.
Architecture in India has clearly developed its own
resistance to the phenomenon of globalisation, creating
in the process a kaleidoscopic rendering of identity
rather than a singular, clear and tangible representation
of an Indian identity. Perhaps this process of forging
identities must necessarily be accompanied by ruptures
and confusions while, in the process, highlighting the
notion of identities as dynamic rather than static,

Ambedkar Park by Design Associates (detail). The blatant use of


elections symbols belonging to the political party that created the
park indicate the emergence of architecture in the representation
of power-wherein the resurfacing of ancient symbolism and
politics are folded into each other.

growing out of multiple as well as ever-changing societal


aspirations. In the words of Amartya Sen, identity is not
a matter of discoveryof history anymore than of the
presentand has to be chosen with reasoning and we
have to resist an often implicitly invoked assumption that

we discover rather than choose our identity.7

Notes

Today, with its liberalised economy, unprecedented


social mobility and mutinous democracy, India is at a
critical crossroads and faces the challenge of choosing,
inventing and constructing its identitya process that

1. For a more nuanced and detailed argument about the politics of

focuses on questions and choices. One challenge stems


from how to facilitate the coexistence of multiple
identitieshow they relate, contradict, oppose and yet
coexist, and are negotiated. Can extreme social diversity
and coexistence be addressed and manifested in the
designed built environment? Can architects design with
divided minds? This situation has resulted in critical

representation and the question of identity, refer to: Mehrotra,


Rahul, Prasad Shetty and Rupali Gupte..Architecture and
Contemporary Indian Identity in Constructing Identity in
Contemporary Architecture, Technical University Berlin, 2009.
2. This overall concept, of the different models of architectural
practice, was first proposed in Mehrotra, Rahul, ed. World
Architecture A Critical Mosaic 1900-2000 - Volume VIII, South
Asia, a book documenting canonical works of architecture of the
twentieth century in South Asia, General editor: Kenneth
Frampton, published by the Architectural Society of China,
Beijing and the Union of International Architects, Beijing, 2000.
3. Mehrotra, Rahul. Bangalore Dysfunctional Boom Town,
Harvard Design Magazine, spring/summer 2007.
4. The NRI (Non-Resident Indian) and PIO (Person of Indian
Origin) population across the world is estimated at over 30
million. As per a UNDP (United Nations Development
Programme) 2010 report, after China, India has the second
largest diaspora (comprising first-generation emigrants living
abroad) in the world, estimated at 25 millionbesides being one
of the largest sending nations in Asia, with an emigration rate
of 0.8%, out of which 72% work in other Asian countries. Also,
as per UNESCOs Institute for Statistics the number of Indian
students abroad tripled from 51,000 in 1999 to over 153,000 in
2007, making India second after China among the worlds largest
sending countries for tertiary students. Source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonresident_Indian_and_Person_of_Indian_Origin. The NRI has, in

Kanchanjunga Apartements, designed by Charles Correa


Associates, was seminal in establishing a regionalist approach
within the tenets and rigour of modernism

the last decade, begun investing in India more substantially. This


group is also characterised by a conservatism that is known to
support and fuel right politics and fundamentalism.
5. The Public Works Department (PWD) is a legacy of the British
era, yet it was powerful and held (and often continues to hold) a

questions about the role of architecture in such


conditions and the immense possibilities thus available
to the profession.
It is perhaps through the articulation and expression of
these differences, rather than subsuming them in a
singular identity, that we can truly read the aspirations of
a nation and its regionsthereby moving closer to ways in
which to interpret these emergent architectural landscapes
where differences are no longer the source of animosity,
but are instead valued as the essential ingredient for
global and human harmony. Reading this diverse
landscape and representing it as accurately as possible is
critical for understanding the diverse architectural
practices in India on their own terms and accepting their
simultaneous validity. Through such a reading, we possibly
capture the potential pluralism that is being expressed in
the form of new architecture in India.

monopoly on large-scale housing and infrastructure projects.


Similarly, each state had its own housing board which was
responsible for turnkey delivery of the various components of
infrastructure or housing in which that state was investing. In the
late 1990s, these bodies began slowly to be replaced by state
agencies responsible for delivering infrastructure and housing, as
the responsibility of the state is gradually being devolved and left
completely to the private sector.
6. Although temples form the bulk of this new construction, a
number of these structures are not specifically religious but are
faith based. Several new mosques have also been built recently,
but do not compare in terms of numbers to the Hindu temples
that have been constructed. However, the presence of religious
and faith-based architecture, and of cultural practises, has shown
a manifold increase in the last two decades, exerting a certain
visual presence that cannot be ignored.
7. Sen, Amartya. Culture Matters and How in special issue on

Image Courtesy: Architecture in India/Pictor Publishers

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

Culture and development, Humanscape, April 2002.

Residential Design

Contemporary homes are extravagant in nature

Bhavesh Patel

ontinuously evolving in nature,


contemporary
architecture
comprises the running trends in
architecture. It is multifarious in nature
for the reason that it isnt defined by a
particular style, instead it has borrowed
bits and pieces from a variety of styles
and eras. On one side it endorses
parametric and biomimetic architecture
whereas on the other side it is also
inclined towards earthy and sustainable
architecture. Not just imitating the past
architecture but rather absorbing,
recreating and pointing towards the
potential remaking of the context. The
new
trends
which
are
being
experimented under contemporary
architecture is with the logical limits of
architecture, pristine forms, new
paradigms in space conceptualisation
and organisation, use of digital
technologies, combination of materials,
fabrication interfaces and narratives of
sustainable designs.
Most commonly, all these styles seem
to demonstrate an ability to root their
projects more honestly in the context in
which they operate without overt

Brick Cape residence, Surat , Gujarat


Designer: Architecture & Beyond, Surat

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The Nest, residence, Surat , Gujarat

references, stylistically speaking to their


regional affiliations and the architectural
roots can be found to a greater or lesser
degree in minimalism.
Down the line, if we go back to the
nineties, minimalism was particularly
dominant in sculpture, where many art
work of the artists like Sol Le Witt,
Donald Indd, Carl Andrea and Dan
Falvin, are worthy of mention. Soon it
started moulding the waves of
contemporary architecture and began to
win over followers among many
contemporary architects. Finding the
phrase less is more of Mies Van Der
Rohe justifiable, architects have agreed
upon emphasising the idea of giving
maximum power to an architectural
space by means of the suppression of
any accessories. As the conclusion of it,
the fewer aesthetic elements that make
up a work, the more eloquent it will be.
The distraction due to secondary
aesthetic resources should be avoided.
For swearing stark and sterile
environment, contemporary residential

Designer: Architecture & Beyond, Surat

architecture has embraced stylish


comfort in todays life. Unlike the past
residential architecture, elements of
minimalism like large openings,
flexibility of spaces, use of materials,
integration of outside with inside,
dynamic forms and oneness with the
nature, are highly incorporated in
todays houses. The contemporary
homes are extravagant in nature; they
are usually much more refined and
practical in use. In flexible open plan
designs, the spaces delineate as distinct
and independent from each other but
seamlessly blur boundaries between
them, coming out as one whole chunk.
Splitting of levels is usually employed
to help the house work better with the
land around it resulting simultaneously
airy and comfortable living. It involves
focus on the connection between two
planes, pure and ample lighting and the
void spaces left by the removal of threedimensional shapes in an architectural
design. As termination of this, a drama is
created into the space. Not only the

physical qualities are incorporated, but


even the intangible dimension is taken
into consideration. Consequently, the
meaning of the house is achieved
through this.
Light being an important characteristic
of this intangible dimension, highlights
the qualities of the material and adds a
value to the dynamics of the space or
saturating it with the characteristic of
abstraction, like unreality. Large openings
encourage interaction between residents
and the outside natural elements,
allowing vistas of the surrounding
landscape. For ample penetration of light
into the space and to invite the diffused
light, large windows and translucent
parameters are incorporated into the
design. As a termination of this, shadows
become blurred and objects tend to
create a dramatic space and thus the
relationship between the objects and the
space they occupy adopts a surrealistic
experience. With passing of the daylight,
notable patterns in the space are observed
and the different phases of the day and
the change in seasons come to ones
notice. Screens being an element to play
with this dimension, are used to give
privacy to the resident by offering the
flow of continuous spaces.
Materials also hold an important
position. The house also demonstrates a
symbiotic relationship with the use of the
materials and its minimalistic aesthetic. To

show different expressions of a building,


architects explore with the materials like
wood, plaster, stone, cedar, brick,
concrete, aluminium, glass, etc. Apart
from exalting the plastic qualities of the
materials, they also take the advantage of
the materials technical properties. Due to
the improved techniques of using several
materials, the heaviness in the elevation
of a building is discarded and is replaced
with the sleek and light look of the
building. For example, use of glass and
aluminium section in a residence for
openings yields a larger dimension with
light structure. Due to innovation in the
technologies of building construction,
concrete as a material has benefited us in
different forms like fabric concrete,
precast concrete panels, etc. Concrete
along with the steel is used as a structural
element and has given the liberty of
providing larger spans for the spaces with
comparatively lighter structural elements,
hence, resulting in the flexibility of the
space. Also, the structural elements
become a part of the designed elevation.
The dynamism in architecture has
started a new era in architecture. The
dynamic buildings have started a new
conception in architecture: a concept of
buildings in motion. It is beyond the
relationship between buildings and who
lives in them, and between buildings
and the atmosphere that accommodates
them. The expression dynamic spaces

Earthy materials used in the interiors of a residence in Mogri, Gujarat


Architects: HARMONY Planning Services Pvt Ltd, Vadodara, Gujarat

Klein Bottle House, Victoria, Australia


Architects: McBride Charles Ryan, Melbourne,
Australia

refers to two distinctive features, one


being that these spaces are characterised
by moving elements resulting from
mobility needs, other being that they are
used differently at different times. Both
feature contrast with the usual static
character of the physical space. This
gives liberty of more flexible use of
existing spaces. Therefore, a more
efficient utilisation is derived from the
paradigm of sustainable development.
With constraints of land and the
implications of bye-laws, dynamism in
space helps in multiplying the space
requirement in a house.
Briefing
it
up,
contemporary
architecture is embracing all the
architectural possibilities, while still
adapting our thinking to current design
and social tendencies that are more
responsive to the context of both
globalisation and specific local contexts
and personal tastes.
Bhavesh Patel is a practising architect based in
Surat, Gujarat.

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Residential Design

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Pronounced Texture
Project: The Nest, Dumas, Surat, Gujarat
Architects: Architecture and Beyond, Surat, Gujarat

he programme was simple a lounge and kitchendining to entertain friends along with personal gym
and bedrooms. The site had old fruit trees and palms
in the forecourt which deserved respect, and hence, the
house was pushed deep on the edge paying heed to the
existing landscape.

SITE PLAN

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65

7
6

7
7

5
4

13

10

11

1. FOYER
2. KITCHEN/DINING
3. STORE ROOM
4. FILTER ROOM
5. WASH AREA
6. BACKYARD
7. SKY WELL
8. OTTA
9. GYM/ENTERTAINMENT AREA
10. BEDROOM
11. TOILET
12. COURTYARD
13. LAWN

12

GROUND FLOOR PLAN

3
1

1. LOUNGE
2. TOILET
3. JACUZZI
4. DECK
5. SWIMMING POOL
6. CONNECTING MS BRIDGE
7. BEDROOM
8. DRESSER
9. OPEN SETTING SPACE

66

8
6

FIRST FLOOR PLAN

A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

9
7

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67

This relationship was twisted such that the public and private
areas got planned as two objects enclosing the landscape and
connected with the pool with a lounge deck. While the kitchendining and gym found their location on the ground, the lounge
and bedrooms got lifted on the upper level to allow an elevated
conversation with the immediate landscape.
The house is entered through a mighty 18ft tall wooden
door in contrast against the concrete wall inviting to explore
the spaces housed within. The foyer then takes one to the

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

dining space on the ground floor planned as a verandah


along the landscape which seems cascading inwards and
creates a dynamic relation. The three shafts which are
skylights interpret the fireplace which was an integral part in
the old British mansions.
The lounge on the upper level is a simple glass pavilion with
furniture planned to occupy less space and leave it more open
for a versatile use for many occasion. A big party space for
friends at one time, to a quiet space to relax and contemplate.

SECTION

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SECTIONS

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

The other wing with gym on the lower level and bedrooms
on upper is connected with a bridge through the pool and
expresses them as a nest covered with the shingles of
aluminium members from outside and inside. The interiors in
contrast are open and warm. The spaces are simple and often
act as a medium to experience the landscape.
Elements in the house be it furniture or staircase or storage
have been detailed with great care such that they
complement the space and not occupy it.
Craft skill available locally with metal or wood or stone
has been reaped in to create many objects such as the
foldable seating in the bedroom which resembles a skeleton
of a creature or the staircases in a plainly folded rustic metal,
the other, a light wooden treads resting delicately on the
metal frame. Great joy and love has gone into creating these
objects in collaboration with the skilled craftsmen.
The material of glass, metal and concrete has been
celebrated in their own way as a craft such that they are read
in harmony. The association between the many materials of
the house is celebrated with the natural light that amplifies
the sense of vastness in the spaces within the house.

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Each of the space is complete in itself but converse with


each other as a series of events that are tied by memory in
the user's mind.
Each element, whether it is in the exterior or in the
interior, was detailed out very carefully, like the fabric
concrete pardi, aluminium cladding, staircases, 18 high
door, furniture, wash basins, etc.

FactFile
Client: Mr Sanjeev Jain
Design team: Bhavesh Patel (Partner), Aashish Patel (Partner), Kruti Galia
Consultants: Dharm Bhagat and Associates, MKS Civil Project Consultants
Contractors: Mr Sujit Ijner
Built-up area: 514sq m
Cost of project: Rs 2.25 crore (Architecture and Interiors)
Year of completion: 2013

Residential Design

Incorporating Architectural
Elements from Rajasthan...
Project: N74, New Delhi
Architects: Anagram Architects, New Delhi

74 is a contemporary articulation of a haveli-style


residence. The attempt is to retain the traditional
spatial vibrancy and volumetric diversity while
expressing a more contemporary materiality and aesthetics.
Built in New Delhi, the design is reminiscent of traditional
Rajasthani haveli architecture where the dialogue of internal
spaces, across terraces, chajjas, jaalis, chandnis, barsatis and
jharokhas, is varied. Built volumes punctuate open space to
increase opportunities of interaction and sociability within
the residence.

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At the outset, the slim proportions of the plot were


anticipated to reduce the penetration of natural light and
fresh air into internal living spaces. The design is a clean
composition of disjoint internal volumes and voids
(courtyards and slits), under a massive edge-to-edge skylight,
fronted by an elaborate long jaali. Thus, the concept from its
initial stages ensured that even the innermost spaces remain
flooded with fresh air and natural light. All internal living
spaces have access to this central, staggered void in some
form or the other.

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75

4
3
1
2
1. BASEMENT
2. CUT-OUT ABOVE
3. POWDER ROOM
4. LANDING

BASEMENT FLOOR PLAN

9
4

1. LIVING ROOM BELOW


2. KITCHEN AREA
3. BALCONY
4. OPEN TO SKY
5. DOUBLE HEIGHT DINING AREA
6. LOUNGE
7. BEDROOM
8. DRESSER AND TOILET
9. POWDER ROOM

GROUND FLOOR PLAN

1
4

1. TV ROOM
2. COVERED TERRACE GARDEN
3. PUJA ROOM
4. OPEN TO SKY
5. CUT OUT
6. LOBBY
7. DRESSER AND TOILET
8. UTILITY

6
7

FIRST FLOOR PLAN

2
2

SECOND FLOOR PLAN

1. MASTER BEDROOM
2. DRESSER AND TOILET
3. OPEN TO SKY GARDEN
4. LAUNDRY

SECTION

The varying definition of the courtyard volume manifests in


open spaces that step up through the inside of the house, across
four levels, and is anchored by a detached monolithic glass box
puja room, situated on the first floor level.

FactFile
Built-up area: 7118sq ft
Year of completion: 2012

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There is a hierarchy of space as one moves from the more


public front section of the house to the private back portions.
Yet, the back portions, by design, still manage to retain the
essence of an external facade flanking an open space, by virtue
of enabling sit-outs and conversations with the courtyard.

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

SECTION

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Residential Design

Seaside Abode
Project: Amchit Residence, Lebanon
Architects: BLANKPAGE Architects, Lebanon

mchit is a coastal town at the feet of Mount Lebanon,


about 40km north of Beirut. The project is an elegant
beach house, perched along the ruggedly picturesque
coastline of Central Lebanon that uses its height and a small
footprint to offer exceptional views of the Mediterranean Sea
a weekend beach house where the clients (a couple in their 50s
with two kids in their 20s) can find respite from the daily grind,
escaping the wear and tear of their everyday lifestyle.

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

The idea was two-fold: integrate the house within a rugged


terrain, sloping from east to west, while commanding the best
sea views for its occupants. The architects demonstrate a
particular sensitivity to the landscape, integrating the building
within the topography, avoiding major disruptions to the land.
This sensitivity is also reflected in the plans of the house, which
show the interrelation between inside and outside, between
architecture and nature.

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GROUND FLOOR PLAN

FIRST FLOOR PLAN

BASEMENT FLOOR PLAN

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

SECTION

Built on a narrow 10x44m lot, the three bedroom house


has three levels, with the master bedroom situated on the
top floor to take maximum advantage of the sea views. All
elements of this residence including the tall glass walls, the
outdoor deck and the infinity-edge pool were, in fact,
designed for optimised views and openness to the sea. The
structure is distinguished by its large single-plane terrace,
which accommodates an elongated lap pool and an

expansive sun deck, both directly accessible from the master


bedroom. The external promenade, with its ramps and
terraces, is an extension of the building and connects it with
the surrounding landscape. The interiors, uncluttered and
minimalistically furnished, reflect the easy living
requirements of the clients. A neutral palette of colours the
grey of the ceramic concrete-finish tile in the reception and
bedroom areas, the warm brown of the Burma teak flooring

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

A few glimpses of the interiors...

SECTION

in the master bedroom complement the reddish timber and


the concrete finishes of the interior walls. At the centre of the
house, a rectangular void is cut out to reconnect the interior
with a view to the sky. The warm, wooden inner core of the
dwelling flirts with light coming through the skylight and the
expansive windows, reflecting the infinite change of light and
shadow as it evolves throughout the day.
Conceived as a layering of decks, the beach house seeks to
maximise its relationship with the sea through a visual and
compositional celebration of horizontality in general and the
Mediterranean horizon in particular. The slabs are held by a

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

area that extends outdoors towards the sea through an infinity


pool as well as a staircase to the shore. In addition to the inner
circulation core, a smooth promenade formed by a system of
external ramps and staircases connects the platforms, linking
the various levels of the rocky landscape that stretches between
the street all the way to the sea.
The rhythms of the steel structure and wooden decking
create a multiplicity of overlapping patterns of shadows that
vary in direction and length all through the day rendering the
simple structure complex and alive. At the particular moment
of the sunset, the house, oriented almost due west at the
elevation that faces the sea, acts as photographic diaphragm
that invites the rays of the setting sun into the depths of the
house, dashing the prototypical spaces in a horizontal glow of
deep red.
minimal steel structure made of equally sized square
columns on a regular module of 2.55m, as well as a discreet
glass enclosure.
Given the inclined nature of the site, the house is
approached by a car on the street level just below the upper
deck. At the external landing entrance, the circulation
interconnects the three levels of the house. The upper platform
contains the master bedroom that opens up on the lap pool
and sun deck. The middle platform houses two bedrooms and
a family living. Finally, the lower deck serves as a reception

Photo credit: Ieva Saudargait

FactFile
Design team: Karim Nader, Patrick Mezher, Walid Ghantous
Collaborators: Jemma Chidiac (Architect-in-charge), Bachir Saade (Mechanical),
Roger Noujeim (Electrical), Antoine Bou Chedid (Structural)
Built-up area: 430sq m
Year of completion: 2014

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87

Exploring Design

Innovative Office Furniture


Architecture+Design presents some elegant and flexible
office furniture designs that merge functionality with
aesthetics...

Designer: David Mnscher,


Germany

Omega Chair & Desk


Made by a single bend surface, Omega desk has a big
desktop with two storage shelves formed beneath. The chair
is created on the same principal. Its floating seat enhances
the feeling of lightness. The two tone styling visually
enforces the geometric structure.

Designer: IDUS Team, New Delhi

A sis Office Tab le

It features rosewood coat with special hardware base within the caisson,
chromium-plated joints, leather coated bases and central locking systems.
It also has LED light application in drawers and cabinets, optional desktop
socket system and monitor lift.

Glide Table
The multi angular shape of the table empowers
the executive table, making it a highlight of the
office space. It is available in high gloss white
and black lacquer finishes.

A pollo
The chair features the swooping wrap round
armrest, multi-position lock and pneumatic
seat height adjustment. The back shell is
made of recyclable polypropylene.

ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN Ap r i l 2 0 1 5

89

Designer: The Furniture Republic,


New Delhi

V ien n a Office Ch air


Ergonomically designed with armrests, this chair is made
with swivel tilt mechanism, flexible back and mesh fabric
upholstery seat. It has a metal base with chrome finish.

Designer: Spacewood Furnishers Team,


New Delhi

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

L in eo Wor k st at ion
It is made up of 50mmX50mm metal pipe legs, trendy
chrome plated leg cap and double level cable tray for
electrical and data. It also features a sandwiched glass
privacy screen mounted on die-casted bracket.

Designer: Herman Miller,


Zeeland, Michigan

I n t er sect Tab les


The tables help employees to collaborate and share spaces
outside individual workstations. It can be folded up either
side for a productive place to work or meet, and can also
be folded down to save space and store easily.

Designer: Jeff Weber, Minneapolis

Th e Avive Tab le
The components of the table are constructed of 81percent recycled materials, such as wood, aluminum, steel and plastic.
It can stand on their own in private offices, team areas or other totally freestanding environments.
Source: Herman Miller, Zeeland, Michigan

ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN Ap r i l 2 0 1 5

91

Designer: Fantoni Team,


Italy

Stripes Tab le
This office table is a combination of
three different colours that create
chromatic effects. It conveys a message
of personalisation, experimentation
and freedom.
Source: Studio Creo, New Delhi

Mu lt ip li CEO Table
The natural beauty of wood envelops the table to
create new sensory emotions and aesthetic values.
Light oak or walnut veneer completely covers the 5cm
thick tops, giving a hand-crafted finish.

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ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN Ap r i l 2 0 1 5

97

Photo credit: Ossip van Duivenbode

he covered market is located in the City Centre of


Rotterdam and comprises 96 fresh produce units and
20 hospitality and retail units. The roof of Markthal is
shaped by an arch of 228 apartments. A four-storey
underground car park offers 1.200 parking lots. Markthal
includes a huge market floor on the ground floor under an
arch of apartments. Its shape, colourful interior and the
height turns it into a unique spectacle. Unique is not only its
shape and size, but especially the way the different functions
are combined. The combination of an apartment building
covering a fresh food market with food shops, restaurants, a
supermarket and an underground parking.
The centrally located building is rooted in the citys history,
located parallel to the late medieval Laurenskerk (Laurens
church) and at the location of the former dike along the river
Rotte. Markthal is accessible by all means of transport. Blaak
train station is right in front of the building and also serves as
metro, bus and tram hub. In 2015, the city of Rotterdam will
construct a recessed bicycle parking right next to Markthal with
a space for 800 bikes. As part of the general transformation of
the Laurenskwartier (Laurens quarter) neighbourhood these
parking places are not only available to inhabitants but also
open to visitors of Markthal, the library, the outside market and

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

tourist attractions in the area. A new traffic plan in the vicinity


of the car park entrance will avoid queues. The underground
car park is open 24/7 and equipped with latest technology such
as a parking guidance system, licence plate recognition, online
reservation system and charging points for electric vehicles.
Markthal means an important impulse to its surrounding
area which is a strong contribution to the urban economy. With
its daily fresh food market, shops and apartments, Markthal
creates coherence and connections in the neighbourhood which
will reach a new centrality. It draws inspiration from food
markets in Barcelona, Valencia and Stockholm. Market vendors
offer a diverse range of regional and international products
such as fresh fish, poultry, cheeses, coffee, vegetables and fruit,
besides a crockery and wine shop. Next to the sales units, The
World of Taste, a centre for education, information and
innovation in the field of healthy eating and The Time Stairs
aim to engage the visitors in the history of food and its
development. The Time Stairs is a permanent exhibition along
the central staircase of Markthal which showcases the
archaeological finds discovered during the site excavation.
A highly public, open building with good accessibility was
needed. The team decided to just flip the two slabs and
market which led to a larger hall with two wide openings

FLOOR PLAN 01

Photo credit: Bas Czerwinski

FLOOR PLAN 02

FLOOR PLAN 03

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN Ap r i l 2 0 1 5

101

SECTION

towards the city. In order to make the construction more


efficient, a curve was chosen that fitted a traditional elevator
core. By adding some space to the lower floors for extra retail
space, the current volume of the arch emerged 120m long,
70m wide and 40m tall.
The building needed to be as open as possible to attract the
public and at the same time it had to be closed off due to
weather conditions. Keeping the closure as transparent as
possible a cable net faade was chosen which needs very few
constructive elements. Its principle is comparable to a tennis
racket in which steel cable is used as strings in between which
the glass is mounted. This cable net faade is the largest-of-itskind in Europe. Because of this, the art piece inside is visible
from the outside, its lush shapes and colours invite the public
to enter the building. The exterior is executed in grey natural
stone, the same as on the pavements, to put the emphasis onto
the interior.
Markthal is a building without a backside. All sides of the
building are accessible or shop windows. The entire supply for
the hall, the shops and restaurants is therefore located
underground. The first basement floor features an expedition
court to which the delivery can happen with vans; from this
exhibition court freight elevators reach the market hall. In this
way inhabitants are not hindered by distribution activities that
often occur in the early hours of the morning. Also in the
basement is an Albert Heijn supermarket, Etos and Gall & Gall.
The delivery for these stores is organised through an

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

underground tunnel leading to hidden elevators at Binnenrotte


square, in this way larger lorries can operate in distance to the
hall. Inhabitants have storage rooms and shared bicycle rooms
in the basement.
Inhabitants can reach their apartments through six separate
entrances leading to elevators and double helix flight stairs.
Due to the curve of the structure, the elevator hall is gradually
floor by floor changing in size and location. At the ground
floor, the elevator is located at the inner faade, at the top floor
towards the outer faade. Each elevator hall services a
maximum of four apartments, two of which have windows to
the market and all have large glass fronts towards the outside.
Markthal received a BREEAM Very Good certificate. The
building is connected to city heating and a thermal storage
system underneath the building which will also heat and cool
a number of adjacent buildings in the surrounding area. The
various functions in the building can exchange heat and cold.
For the hall itself extensive research was conducted to create a
comfortable interior climate with an extremely low energy use.
The hall is naturally ventilated, underneath the glass faade
fresh air flows in; it rises towards the roof and leaves the hall
through ventilation shafts in the roof. This is a thermic system
which can function without any installations. A central
monitoring system is used to exchange heat and cool between
the different programmes, in this way less installation could be
used than normal for these programmes. The combination of
housing, shopping centre, parking and market hall makes the

Photo credit: Woon Beter

installation technology more efficient. Inside the market, an


information panel illustrates the energy use and CO2 savings of
the building. A smart sanitation system is designed to save water.
The design vision of MVRDV describes Markthal as urbanism;
the function mix is an integrated design, a 24 hour building
which is a public and lasting addition to the city of Rotterdam.
The interior of the arch is covered by the gigantic art piece
Horn of Plenty, a multi-coloured creation by Rotterdam artists
Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam. The art piece is made with Pixar
Animation software depicting a photographic 3D illusion of fresh
products such as fruit, fish, bread, flowers and also the tower of

adjacent Laurenskerk (Laurens church). Horn of Plenty refers to


the great still-lives of the Dutch golden century, to the Greek
mythology in which Cornucopia is a legendary object and to the
tradition of artistic arch decoration known from places such as
the Sistine Chapel. The artwork evokes the illusion of lying on
your back in a meadow, looking up and right through Markthal
towards the sky. The sun in the centre figures as Horn of Plenty
from which the fresh produce falls down to earth.
Horn of Plenty is one of the largest art pieces of the
Netherlands. Its technology is unique. The fresh produce
seems photographed but is built in the computer, piece by

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103

Photo credit: Ossip van Duivenbode

piece. The 3D impression is detailed in the same resolution


suitable for a glossy magazine. In total the image consist of
400.000 megapixels.
The 11.000sq m art work has been screwed against the
wooden interior facade of the hall. Each of the 4.500
aluminium panels sized 1,52cm by 1,52cm needed to be
mounted in the right way at the right spot. The 2mm thick
panels are perforated in order to absorb noise from the hall,
this helps to create the excellent acoustic profile of the
halls interior.
One piece in the centre of the art work is left white; here
throughout the entire year an animation will be projected in
the evening, this video-mapping will change and respond to
themes such as season and food. Markthal Rotterdam is a
completely new concept, the first building-of-its-kind, a hybrid
between market hall and housing. Rotterdam experiences a
world-wide scoop with this new urban typology. By using the
apartments to create an arch that covers the market a new
public building emerges, which could not have been this grand
without the housing.
The horse shoe shaped arch of Markthal consists of housing
from the third to the eleventh floor, in total 102 rental
apartments and 126 apartments for sale. Each apartment has
an outside terrace over the full width of the unit and the 24
penthouses on the top floor have thanks to the arch shape
a very wide roof terrace. The apartments can be accessed via six
entrances at the street level.

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Half the apartments have windows to the market, these


windows are triple glazed to avoid sound or smell nuisance.
There is a broad choice of apartment types, from free layout
loft apartments to duplex with multiple bedrooms. The
properties vary from 80 to 300sq m. The penthouses have their
entrances on the tenth floor and inside stairs and room for an
elevator to the eleventh floor, in this way the arch of Markthal
could be realised without any elevator boxes on the roof.
Markthal distinguishes itself by its special design and
function of food related events and meetings. It is a meeting
place for all those who enjoy eating and drinking, in the heart
of Rotterdam.

FactFile
Client: Provast Nederland bv
Design team: Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries with Renske van
der Stoep, Anton Wubben, Marc Joubert, Sven Thorissen, Monica Freundt, Laura
Grillo, Joeri Horstink, Tadas Jonauskis, Diana Lopez, Gijs Rikken, Elsbeth Ronner,
Yvo Thijssen, Johnny Tsang, Anet Schurink, Jeroen Zuidgeest, Michele Olcese, Laura
Grillo, Ivo van Capelleveen
Consultants: Royal Haskoning DHV, The Hague, the Netherlands (Structure),
Peutz & Associes Zoetermeer, Netherlands (Services/Acoustics), Techniplan, the
Netherlands (Installations)
Contractors: Mobilis + Martens en Van Oord (Underground - four-storey car park),
J.P. van Eesteren (Above ground - market, commercial and apartments)
Built-up area: Building Area 8.300sq m; Total GFA - 95.000sq m
Cost of project: 175 million Euro
Year of completion: 2014

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Vistas

Spatial Expression
Project: Oranje Corporate Office, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
Architects: Archohm Consults Private Limited, Noida, Uttar Pradesh

orporate interior design is one of the most powerful


tools to express a philosophy through design, to the
common man. The fundamental question of
understanding the identity and character of the company and
its subsequent manifestation into the built form is an interesting
phenomenon. By addressing the larger question on spatial and
visual design, its legitimacy and its power, it allows for an
opportunity to talk to a varied audience. It distils the
companys corporate identity for the owners and stake holders;
it unites and inspires the employees with a strong ideology and
communicates an introduction to the company for visitors and
the larger external audience.

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

In the case of Oranje, the real estate office for Suraj Infra,
the design journey had a twist. The two issues of identifying an
identity and suggesting a spatial solution went hand in hand.
The office is a crisp 4000sq ft facility that has three zones
one for visitors, another for the owners and the rest for the
employees. Being a marketing and sales office, it needed an
element of style and surprise. The entrance is a large volume
stripped off any ceilings or coverings to enhance the sense of
scale. It has a stone mural with a skyline as an extension of the
flooring. The minimal steel reception desk is a functional fold
that presents all the company collaterals. The seating borrows
its form from one of their first housing projects. A series of

FLOOR PLAN

ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN Ap r i l 2 0 1 5

107

SECTIONS

concrete planters and bamboos, encased in glass, pull the


movement to the inside. This combination of coarse concrete
and glass with green screens marks the partitions in the office.
The large meeting room with its monolith calibrated stone
table and massive winged lights bring in the required form and
formality to the space. The twin cabins lend a sense of luxury

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to the office with real wood furniture, LED task lighting as well
as mood lighting and Italian seating furniture. The main
workspace is again a large volume exaggerated with long
lengths of random lines of light. The desks are custom-made
with white corian and brown woods. The corian is moulded
with inbuilt functionality of stationery, lights and a green relief.

ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN Ap r i l 2 0 1 5

109

This space is also marked with a machine cut etching of lord


Ganesha for a graphic spiritual presence. The bathroom and
kitchens also take corian counters as a mark of continuity
communicating high design. Storages are built and dissolved
into walls.
The flooring palette is grey with streaks of white, justifying
the use of a combination of grey William stone and carpet.
The office has its greens with plant life which is complimented

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A p r i l 2 0 1 5 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

FactFile
Client: Mr Ashish Khemka (Suraj Infraventures Pvt Ltd)
Design team: Sourabh Gupta (Principal Architect), Aditi Sharma,
Geeta Lunial, Tarak Murari, D D Sharma, Shivdutt Sharma
Consultants: Roark Consultants (Structural), Archohm (Electrical,
Civil, Landscape, Faade & Engineering), Abid Husain (HVAC),
Techno Engineering (Plumbing)
Built-up area: 1345sq ft (125sq m)
Year of completion: 2014

by orange renderings like wall coverings, fabric panels and


art. This choice of orange subsequently went well with the
Oranje nomenclature for the business. This cooperation of
different businessmen was given a corporate identity that
spoke of ethics and efficiency, through the built expression of
transparency and contemporary look and feel. The bold use
of forms and finishes reflected the liberal mindset. The
collection of fixtures and fittings explained the technology
driven and market savvy mindset.

Last but not the least, as one leaves the office into the long
corridor carrying a strong image of a smart company, one
continues to see a loud light. This sculptural installation of
piercing rings of light is symbolic to this corporate as a close
and collective cooperation of its stakeholders, physically
and metaphorically.
Photo credit: Humanyun Khan

ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN Ap r i l 2 0 1 5

111

Vistas

Intersecting Volumes

Project: Corporate Office, Milan, Italy


Architects: Maurizio Lai Architect, Lai Studio, Milan, Italy

he recovery of a semi-industrial space leads to the


conception of an environment by intersecting volumes,
where floors and surfaces immerse in each other,
looking for the light. The space consists of two large open
volumes, one located on the ground floor with its own access
directly from the street and a second in the basement. The
volume on the ground floor is also divided in the middle by

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the communal stairwell and concierge, separating the front


portion of the unit in two parallel sections.
Initially a mechanical workshop, these premises without
windows, used to get light from the large windows at the
rear, overlooking a small courtyard, as well as through
skylights from the ceiling. The project of restoration and
transformation of the space in the representative office of a

4
7
3

GROUND FLOOR PLAN

1. EXECUTIVE OFFICE
2. PASSAGE
3. TOILET

4. RECEPTION
5. DISENGAGEMENT
6. CAF

7. CONDOMINIUM SPACE
8. ENTRANCE
9. MEETING ROOM

ELEVATION

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4
2
3
5

FIRST UNDERGROUND FLOOR PLAN

1. COURTYARD
2. BUSINESS OFFICE
3. OPEN SPACE
4. TECH ROOM
5. TOILET

real estate development company grows around the need of


maximisation of natural light.
The project involves the demolition of part of the ground
floor and favours the glass as a structural material in the
construction of most of the partitions, so as not to hinder the
diffusion of natural luminosity coming from a large doubleheight opening at the bottom of the space.
The light coming from the skylights, originally quite
fragmented and looking decidedly industrial, is maximised
by the construction of an extended row of diffusers onto the
ceiling, lined with an elegant silver metal mesh, which give
the space a more homogeneous feeling.
The court turns into a nice green backyard which features
a double height vertical garden, thereby bringing light and
offering a relaxing view to the administrative offices located
in the final part of the basement. On the ground floor, the

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entrance is marked by a scenic 17m long corridor, highlighted


by recessed light strips that run along the ceiling and the
floor, where a geometric pattern of false perspective deceives
the eye of the visitor.
Along the corridor, a large furnished niche serves as the
main waiting area, closed at the bottom by a large sliding
wall that works as a second entrance. The parallel volume
contains some of the functional areas of the office, such as
the small kitchen and the bathrooms, cleverly hidden by a
system of sliding panels placed along the corridor that leads
to one of the meeting rooms, provided with its own exit door
back on the street.
All technical areas were obtained from the accurate cutting
of the main spaces, both on the ground floor and in the
basement, remaining invisible to the eye of the public and
the operators themselves. The executive offices overlook a
glass catwalk that delimits the fragmented portion of the
ground floor and ends in the office of the presidency, a great
volume provided with its own conference room, where the
vertical garden provides a lush green background from the
large glass window.

A few glimpses of the interior shots...


(Left and this page)

The main staircase that winds its way from the catwalk looks
like a great metal band on the outside it accommodates pale
colour steps made of kerlite slabs and light holes along the way,
which are reflected to infinity in the mirror covered parapets,
creating a kaleidoscopic effect.
The staircase leads to the basement where the architecture
and design department of the company is located, divided into
a long strip of workstations and an area used for internal
meetings and design reviews. The secondary staircase, instead,
connects the administrative offices positioned at the rear of the
basement with the management, upstairs.
A third staircase leads to a further basement, where the
archives and technical facilities are found. All fixtures and
furniture are custom-designed and manufactured the tables
in lacquered wood fitted with steel pockets, the libraries, the

big neon lamps and the seats, as well as the integrated systems
of tables and dressers and the double-height wall with its
backlit slots that characterises the central part of the location.

FactFile
Design team: Maurizio Lai (Senior Architect); Giuseppe Tallarita, Michele Capra,
Marco de Santi (Architects); Elena Mazzoleni (Materials Selection & Styling);
Beatriz Jam de Leon, Nella Figueroa (Junior Designers)
Consultants: Riccardo Schironi (Engineering)
Contractors: Magistri Costruzioni Srl, Ciro Monguzzi, LCS Laboratorio
Costruzioni Scenografiche, Talmax, Oltrevetro, Climarredo
Built-up area: 610sq m (approx)
Cost of project: 1,830,000
Year of completion: 2012

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Products

Shower Collection
H&R Johnson, one of Indias leading
integrated lifestyle solution providers, has
announced the launch of its latest range of
products under the brand name Elite Collection.
With an aim to enhance the bathing experience, the shower
collection has been designed using stainless steel and silicon
nozzles, making it easier to clean while ensuring uniformity in
water flow from all nozzles. The collection also comprises
chrome-plated faucet that uses brass to ensure uniform flow and
temperature of water. To match the customers expectation of the
luxurious bath experience, the collection of faucets has been
grouped in six sub-ranges Elite 1000, Elite 2000, Elite 3000,
Elite 4000, Elite 5000 & Elite Rain Showers.

Classy Bathroom Faucets


Crystal Sanitaryware has launched a new product
Aura in the market. Aura is a classy range of single
levers and allied faucets from Ark Rubinetterie. Ark
Rubinetterie is an effort by Crystal Sanitary to bring
forth the latest in water deliverance implemented in
Europe to Indian customers.
The company has collaborated with Swiss, German
and Italian faucet manufacturers and also with
Swarovski, the renowned crystal maker, to help realise
this venture. Crystal Sanitary aimed at providing
customers a range of faucets and showers that combine
European style and grandeur, yet maintain a tough
Indian core, a confluence of the two worlds.
To know more, visit: crystalfaucets.com

Wooden Deck Tiles


NOTION has launched Wooden Deck tiles for exterior use. Made with tropical
wood and assembled on a high density engineered plastic base, these tiles can be
used in two different ways with staggered or aligned joints. Due to their various
colours, designs and shapes, these deck tiles can easily fit almost every surface of the
house. These decking tiles are provided with non-toxic chemical coatings that ensure
resistance against termite and moisture. They are safer to walk on as they offer more
toeholds to prevent slipping.
For more information, call: 91-8010-450-450

Contemporary Sanitaryware
Cera Sanitaryware Ltd, one of the largest
sanitaryware companies in India, has launched a new
contemporary faucet series GAYLE. The series of
faucets is a fusion of modern straight lines and classical
curvesgiving it aesthetic style and functional utility. The
blend of sharp edges and curved contours, the series, has both single lever and
quarter turn ranges and comes with a coin-slot aerator for easy maintenance. Gayle,
conforming to green norms, is crafted by in-house designers of CERA, in its IAPMO
recognised lab, which incidentally, is the first of its kind in India.

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Regd. No. R.N.I. 42924/84