By Marina Correa
Photography: Rahul Pawar; courtesy MQA
A glass-and-concrete façade, sharp angular edges and a heightened sense of transparency impart a sculptural presence to Wockhardt’s 25,000 sq. ft. canteen insert amidst an industrial complex in Aurangabad…
The starting point for principal architect, Qutub Mandviwala of Mandviwala Qutub and Associates was to create a landmark, where people would encounter the structure as a work of art and not as a mere canteen facility. Accomplishing this with aplomb, the building supports a smooth transition between work and recreation by strengthening interaction across its 2,400-strong work force.
Externally, the angular, exposed concrete walls rise upwards to either fold back into space or away from it - almost like lids of a box giving views to sky and landscape that keep alive an element of transience and intrigue.
The open staircase tied with steel ropes turns sculptural as you climb to the spillover canteen on the floor above, while the views of the lotus pond through the glass make it a joyous experience.
The interiors comprise a complementary colour palette consisting largely of grey and white with a generous infusion of nature’s greens keeping it subdued, whilst concrete, glass and steel make up the functional and no-fuss materiality.
Interestingly, the inspiration for the name Meeze9 comes from the word mezzanine, which conjures a sense of drama created between two levels; the spin on the spelling effectively capturing the conviviality of the space.
Sustainability is subtly woven into the site. While the large lotus pond overlooks open sitting/dining area with an open kitchen heightening the aesthetic, it naturally cools the site. Additionally, use of solar-E glass (heat and glare proof) for the floor-to-ceiling panels blurs the distinction between inside and outside, keeping the interiors cool and pleasant. The purposeful orientation of folding walls protects the interiors from direct southern and northern heat and glare, maintaining a pleasing environment despite the Aurangabad heat.