Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Instant Indulge

By Savitha Hira
Photography: Courtesy Karim Noorani & Co.

Modern corporate canteens require new interpretations of design. Ar. Biswas & Kumar Associates articulates this fact via an exigent kitchen facility in Mumbai…

Corporate culture has seen a sea-change in recent times. Added to the much-clich├ęd “comfort-induced ambience is directly proportional to level of productivity”, is an inherent humaneness, where the employer-employee divide is greatly bridged via a commonplace understanding of stress, health and recreation related issues that are again, unequivocally in proportion with workplace ethics and enterprise.

Japanese company Nomura with its 4500 employees and its vast kitchen catering to dining areas spread across staff, executive and terrace areas offered a very challenging brief to Sanal Kumar, principal architect, Biswas & Kumar Associates. For their Mumbai office, Nomura wanted to optimize space and economics by incorporating their kitchen and dining areas with a few SOS functions. For example, the staff and executive dining areas were to be out-fitted into a convertible townhouse and conference area, at will. While the former was provided with camouflaged amenities like projectors etc., the latter was accomplished by a simple rearrangement of furniture. An open-air terrace dining was another area that commanded style and originality.

“Corporates today prefer comprehensive in-house facilities to convene new business meets and corporate dinners etc., in addition to state-of-the-art facilities for their work force,” informs Kumar Kubsad, associate architect on the project and partner at Karim Noorani & Co. At Nomura, hospitality included live cooking counters, and proper segregation of all food types – veg., non-veg., Jain and health food, along with the mandatory store room, cold room, food preparation areas, kitchen staff rest rooms with showers etc., etc. Naturally, executive and staff entries too were distinct and a proper dispatch area was envisaged.

“Once we overcame site conditions – where fresh air & exhaust system, water supply lines and the requisite drainage slope were incorporated, which ere incidentally, spot-on constraints; design evolved from these pertinent issues,” says Kumar.

The necessary ambience that exudes elitist leanings along with pragmatics is introduced via functional low-height partitions made of gypsum board panels clad with ceramic tiles in the kitchen; marble flooring and counters finished in different textures, and wooden surfaces finished with Mahogany veneer in the dining areas. Native Japanese features include Bamboo, Tattami mats in ceiling and wooden rafters. Besides, the terrace open dining area is covered with stretch fabric and is located next to the Japanese theme garden – a lively and completely different experience. Another such feel-good factor is provided by the Juice Bar counter, which is an  interesting  multifunctional unit: fitted on a movable base trolley, the counter can be closed at will and pulled out during business meets and dinners to serve non-alcoholic drinks.

Wrapping up the package, is the up-to-the-minute fire safety system, connected to the IBMS, i.e. Smoke detection system, Heat detection system, Sprinklers & Wet chemical fire suppressing system for all hoods.

Well detailed, the interiors are consistently in synch with territorial precincts and brand perception.

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