Sameep Padora plus Associates. sP+A. Simple. Direct. To the point. Just like Mr. Padora himself.
By Dhanishta Shah
Photos By sP+a
His work reflects his penchant for innovation and desire to constantly challenge existing design structures and processes. As we discuss his projects, I get curious about Indigo Deli. When I first visited Indigo Deli (at Palladium Mall, Phoenix Mills) what struck me was the ceiling. This is what makes it different from any other Indigo outlet or any other restaurant. I was keen to know the inspiration behind it. “We were already toying with the idea of doing retail here. We also did not want a flat ceiling. We took advantage of the high ceiling and the opportunity to cover up all the ducting. Somehow both these ideas merged” enlightens Sameep.
I thus realize that behind this “statement piece” is also a well thought out concept. The wooden grid like design that envelops the whole dining area also extends to incorporate shelf space for the in-house products. Indeed, the ceiling in this case becomes like a silent stage under which all performances and events of the location take place!
Brand spaces are generally repetitive, but this one is a welcome change. Yet, “the copper-wooden feel and the flooring made it coherent with the design of the other outlets, so some similarity is maintained” explains Padora, as he talks about the design.
What would an architect do if the clients demanded that their house had to be ‘a fortress from the cacophony of the world outside?’ While designing this private residence in Hyderabad, Padora looked at the local Golconda Fort for inspiration.
The house too resembles a fortress. But, the design brings it down to human proportions. The bungalow is layered and scaled into levels. 12,000 square feet of space is divided into work, family and guest entertainment spaces which intersect at a central point. Three parallel walls enclose these areas. As they gain distance from the street, these walls ascend in height. Here, the boundary wall is also a part of the three-wall structure instead of being a distinct edge.
“This was one of the best clients I’ve worked with, but the challenge if any was to balance client aspiration and brief within a structural logic that questions certain accepted ideas of building a bungalow type, in the context of the city of Hyderabad” says Padora. Here too, it seems that Padora’s tendency to break away from the obvious and find newer interpretations of a structure has worked its magic!
At the moment, the civil work has been done and interiors are to start. Yet, several people are curious to come and have a look. “It has evoked brilliant reactions!” admits Padora, when I ask him about preliminary responses to this very unusual structure for a house.
The Carpet Pavillion
The Carpet Pavillion conceptualized by the firm was a temporary structure that left a permanent mark on viewers. The “Galeecha Pavilion” as it is called, was constructed for a national trade show, as a carpet dealer’s pavilion.
Carpet fitters who work precisely wall-to-wall had to change canvas. This time round, they targeted the ceiling! The concept was born out of a desire to evoke sustainability. The structure on the ceiling was made from the carpets used at the previous year’s exhibits which are normally discarded. However, here they assume the form of a metamorphic cloud. This was such a contrast to the usual wasteful nature of such activities.
“The idea of sustainability is not just about an assemblage of eco-friendly products but also about human skills & processes. Most people assumed that like some of our other projects this was designed using parametric software when in fact it was completely handmade” says Padora. Indeed, this project showed that sustainability can be process based in addition to being material based.
Talking about these three very diverse projects, I wonder what his design philosophy is. He laughs and says it cannot be summed up in a few words. But, I probe. After all, with all these varied projects under his belt and the advantage of a cross-cultural experience, he certainly must have some strong notions on design. “When I started working in India, it led to various contexts. People had different “briefs” about their projects. I believe that design cannot exist on a whim. There has to be logic behind it, a context around it. We cannot be casual about design” he states.
We move on to discussing future commissions. “At this point, any kind of institutional building” he remarks. “This is because we have not done that before. Moreover, such a project is on a different scale. You are not only designing for a client but also for the image of an institution” he states. We’re sure the day he realizes that is not far, and the work will most certainly be something to talk about!