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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Form-al Fortitude


By Savitha Hira
Photography: Courtesy Saket Sethi


Mumbai based architect Saket Sethi chisels out a metaphor for the Aditya Birla company, creating for them, their first world class R&D campus to spearhead a new generation of products and research…

For a young architect to win his first large project (22 acre plot) - Aditya Birla Science and Technology Center (ABSTC) - that would not only reflect stalwart corporate ideology but also herald the new icon of its vicinity, is indeed a laudable task.

Establishing a direct brand connect with the masses, Saket plays with the ‘Rising Sun’ logo of the Birla group and its tangential ray as the basic form of the building. Architecturally, the main corporate building embodies a triple curve façade (curving in plan, elevation and section), abstracting the logo and an asymmetric corporate tower rising out of the sun profile; much like a ray of light symbolizing the eternal reach of corporate research. The combination of these design elements with its symbolic approach, creates an iconic beacon in the sky for its identifiable local context.

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Employing standard and advanced construction techniques, the final form is developed using a double-glazed front facade and Kalzip skin, with architectural features like cones that simultaneously elocute technological advances as well as simple geometry. The architectural layout defines a quad partite entry, leading to a building circulation core, from where double and triple height volumes effectively nurture the voluminous interior spaces and their interactivity.

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While the superstructure, approximately 200m long and raised about 60m above the ground, has been challenging due to the unusual profile of the site and pre-determined site access from the highway, the core concept uses familiar design elements in an unfamiliar way to create a space that depicts drama without being fussy. Most materials used are common, easily available but it is the manner of use that makes the space special. 

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Split helix staircase, atrium spaces, cantilevered projections, graphic design as the subtle embellishing tool, rampant use of colour white and a network of vertical vs. horizontal patterns in design and space planning, augments communiqué across all levels – physically and hierarchically.  

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Strategic play of geometry - fluid in contrast to rectilinear, state-of-the-art technique, and a basic naissance of a communicable interactive structure are key elements that define this centre for its architectural brilliance. Attention to detail works very well for the project as does optimal natural light ascertaining views for every user and very categorically taking the monotony out of this R&D facility.

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The entire interior development of 100,000 sq. ft stands out for its circular helix stairs, colour coded graphics, meandering corridors, greenery and its multi-levels as much as the architectural structure commands as an integrated loci contextually, simultaneously mimicking an aero form.

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8 comments :

  1. Seriously? This is why architects have so much trouble with business and the economy and charging fair rates for our work. The issue is not form or details...it's listening to your client and delivering a solution that meets their needs and delights them. To become a trusted advisor and to building an outstanding long lasting relationship with each client. Continuing to have these discussions about form and detail is doing a disservice to our entire industry! We should be talking about how our buildings support the activities of the businesses they are there to house! How to do it economically and beautifully but in a way that integrates with the values and goals of the client, not the architect!
    Posted by Thomas Wasmoen on Linkedin Group: Design Architects in response to IAnD's discussion thread: Architectural grandeur is not about form alone. It is a lot about details. Agree or Disagree?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear Mr. Thomas Wasmoen, I fully appreciate your point of view. I would like to clarify that when I referred to detail - I meant exactly that - "listening to your client and delivering a solution that meets their needs and delights them. To become a trusted advisor and to building an outstanding long lasting relationship with each client."
    I also agree that we should be talking about how our buildings support the activities of the businesses they are there to house with emphasis on the client's needs rather than the architect's; however, as a magazine, we generally tend to cover the architect's viewpoint more than the client's as we try to understand the professional approach to a project and its requisite deliverance.
    I shall hold your thought and see how we could further it in our future reportage.Do continue to your trusted readership with us and we welcome your feedback.
    Thank you.
    Posted by Savitha Hira on Linkedin Group: Design Architects in response to IAnD's discussion thread: Architectural grandeur is not about form alone. It is a lot about details. Agree or Disagree?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agree... the issue of form versus function is always a raging debate between design and technical staff. One should not be given preference over the other. A good designer is one who thinks about the technical and practical issues during his design processes. It comes with experience.
    Most young graduate architects nowadays are content to stop at designing, not wanting to move with the project to the techical documentations stage and thereafter to construction stage. It's a pity, as the latter stages is where young architects can learn much.
    My college lecturer once said, "what looks good on paper will not necessarily be the same on site."
    Posted by Anup Magan on Linkedin Group: London Architecture Network in response to IAnD's discussion thread: Architectural grandeur is not about form alone. It is a lot about details. Agree or Disagree?

    ReplyDelete
  4. In question to the lecturers question - should we not try or are we going to stay stuck to the pithy's of the past? My practice is about cautious and contextual redefinition - more on my approach is in an interview to Home Review magazine, April issue. Best Regards, Saket

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  5. Architectural 'grandeur' is the result of the program presented, imagination of the architect, cultural basis of the architect and project regarding location and national image, budget requested and budget allowed, and what the client is looking for.
    Today; too many writers, publishers and readers are looking for the panacea of design and glitz of phoney ideates. like putting gold leaf on cow pies. There was "grandeur" in Gaudi, but you had to like him to appreciate him and the shape of buildings.
    In various nations the culture will bear out the detail of buildings, will dictate by religious ideates, the amount of glitz and adornment a building will stand in the eye of good visual taste.
    Posted by joel clary on Linkedin Group: Design Architects in response to IAnD's discussion thread: Architectural grandeur is not about form alone. It is a lot about details. Agree or Disagree?

    ReplyDelete
  6. When I think about "grandeur" as it pertains to architecture, it brings to mind elegance, flow, sophistication, and inspiration. It's all in the details...it's the details that create the overall appearance and atmosphere.
    Posted by Robin Lechner on Linkedin Group: Interior Architecture + Design in response to IAnD's discussion thread: Architectural grandeur is not about form alone. It is a lot about details. Agree or Disagree?

    ReplyDelete
  7. 100% agree
    Posted by Arwa Taybeh on Linkedin Group: Design Architects in response to IAnD's discussion thread: Architectural grandeur is not about form alone. It is a lot about details. Agree or Disagree?

    ReplyDelete

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