Friday, January 6, 2012

Urbane Address

By Pari Syal

Big or small, a design professional thrives on challenges. When Hiren Patel Architects (HPA) from Ahmedabad were asked to transform an old vacant school building in suburban Mumbai, into a chic corporate office for a leading industrial tycoon, their thinking caps began to revolve around an energy efficient edifice with the focus on four core features: smart exterior elevations, regimented interior layout, seamless inside-outside integration of built-structure with landscape and a naturesque thematic.

Focussing on the premise that the office should be a far cry from any regular working environment and sport an open, interactive equation, the architects chiselled varied spaces – for meetings, brainstorming sessions and the like, encouraging the staff to quit their staid desks and ideate.

“It is an out-and-out interior project,” says Mr. Hiren Patel, “Except for some fine-tuning in the elevation, with especially designed weather shades for protection from direct sun rays and the heavy Mumbai rains.” While these weather shades also become the planters that beautify the building’s exterior face, the ‘nature’ theme is sustained inside via graphics, paintings and signage with almost all meeting rooms and offices named after a flower; and every area adorned with graphics (designed by Allen Shaw) providing the requisite information about the respected flower assigned to that space. Further the selection of works of art, whether paintings or sculptures or even an understated wall mural in steel, have been assiduously synchronised with details in the interior make-up viz., line and form of panelling, lighting solutions, glass canopy, down to details in the furniture design as well.

The resultant simplicity is efficacious; with a material and colour palette that rejuvenates whilst it soothes the senses. Neutral backdrops abound, making room for a latent vitality through colour in soft furnishings and the works of art that dot the office. A generous inclusion of plants in the interiors tends to usher in the landscape outside; floor-to-ceiling glass partitions and premeditated fenestrations further promote a seamless integration of interior-exterior spaces all along.

While one could safely say that a healthy measure of art and nature anoint this office, it is the God in details that essentially wraps it into a well-groomed corporate set-up, refined and chiselled to upbeat suaveness.

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