The office space of Malik Architecture reflects the refined elegance of its quaint South Mumbai locale. The openness of space that flows seamlessly handles many creative vibrations.
We settle down to discuss Arjun Malik’s projects. The first two are indeed the very initial ones that he accomplished as a budding architect. “Today, I probably would address them differently but when I look back, they clearly reflect my fresh responses of that time.” he clarifies. The third one is special too since it is his own residence.
The GMS Grande Palladium
The Grande Palladium is a very different looking commercial building in Mumbai. “When we studied buildings in the surrounding area, we realised that despite a requirement for a streetscape, the design still created an impenetrable barrier between the street and the building” says Malik. In order to dissolve this, he lifted the structure 8 meters above the ground. “At the base we have the landscaped courtyard, lobby, café and so on” he says. He sees this idea as a suggestion for future construction too.
He experiments with flexibility of office-space use in this structure, where four levels are meant to be leased. “Regular office spaces are quite cubic. We have revisited the concept of Mumbai’s old warehouses which tend to be linear” says Malik. The client’s office on the top level is strikingly different – it is a single span tube cantilevering a fabulous landscaped garden.
The outer façade is made up of seam free aluminum sheets, which give a continuous appearance, making the structure almost monolithic.
There may have been several challenges in implementing the ideas. “Translating ideas into the structure itself was a challenge. Our industry is not used to unconventional buildings,” he states. But, having forayed into the unconventional, I ask him about his dream for commercial structures in Mumbai. “I think it would be idealistic to have buildings that break boundaries. I would like an open public plaza for such buildings. Of course, sustainable and good quality buildings are always best!” he says.
The Alibaug Bungalow
This bungalow in Alibaug stands on a very beautiful but very hilly area. “Normally, one would have terraces on such a terrain. But these tend not to respect contours,” opines Malik. He thus went for a house whose structure links better with the surroundings. There are bridges all over, linking the various cubic structures that form the different parts of the house. These mimic the slopes below. The indoor-outdoor link is strong and indeed different. Inclusion of water elements at different levels (such as a stilted pool) is a novel feature. There are a variety of individual spaces that throw surprises because you can never predict what is coming next!
“I like the fact that this house creates a new type of interaction with the landscape. In a way, it completely negotiates conventions. I also believe that it is designed to be experienced. You have to experience it to know about it” he says.
In this particular structure I see a very fine balance between sustainable principles of building, a respect for the location and luxury elements all delicately interwoven together. I wonder if this was a conscious choice or does it just come naturally to him. “It’s always a conscious move if you have your own non-negotiable aspects of design” he responds.
Hoisted in a 200-300 year old building, Malik’s loft where he resides is a space to talk about. “When I saw this place for the first time, I stripped it down to its bare structural elements. I then started doing it up from that point” he shares. The transformation from the “wrecked” structure that it was to what it is today speaks volumes about Malik’s ingenuity.
An observer will notice that the home is devoid of art. But, this is intentional. Spend a day here and you will realize that the sun streams in through the huge windows and sunrays interact with the beams, stairway and elements of the house to produce wonderful effects on its bare walls. “It is like a natural sundial. You don’t need a clock here!” says Malik.
Arjun Malik believes that the design of this house somehow provides a higher quality of living.
Through the discussion of the three projects I notice that sustainability is an important feature of design. “Sustainability is the key issue in the building industry. In terms of design we should consider the orientation, bringing microclimates within the structure, use of water and in general improving the quality of the space if we are to address sustainability” he advocates.
“I think that every architect comes at a crossroads in every project where he has to choose between two elements. One is something that makes the object interesting and attractive. The kind of stuff you would feature or read about. The other makes it more habitable and friendly to the end users. This crucial choice makes all the difference,” he concludes.
Text by: Dhanishta Shah