Established in 2007, the founding members of M:OFA (Manifestation of Fluid Architecture) continue to dream and develop simulations, case studies and applications of unique, sometimes even urban contradictions of designs, working deliverance for them and their clients.
The M:OFA team of Manish Gulati, Tanushree Gulati and Abhinav Chaudhary, master-mix pre-defined concepts of architecture, granting a heady mix of ever-changing energy fields, structural reflections of the contrasts in modern life and free-flowing expressions adapting to the changes in the environment.
Their design philosophy is simple and relevant to the times: “Where you live, theories get left behind; philosophies are static. They become obsolete as soon as we live.”
Design is a spontaneous creation for the M:OFA team who compare the design process to Lord Nataraja’s divine dance of the cosmos, which sparked the beginning of creativity. Likening the pure design process to the celestial dance drama playing out like natural elements enact their part in making magic happen. In tune with nature and our needs, the team compares it to poetry born out of heartfelt experiences. Thus, M:OFA believes, “Design is born…and grows.”
Their criterion for accepting a project is just as simple: it must enable this sort of dialogue – a piece that beckons them, holds the promise of something new, exciting, even absolutely different from what is imagined, acceptable and politically correct. Yes, sometimes that reads as being ready to expect the unexpected!
The projects showcased here embody the M:OFA spirit – the power to creatively present layers of planning and design unrestricted by conventional grid locked architectural ambitions – the answers to which are holistically realised as the vibrations of life.
Moulin Rouge conceived for an international design competition was based on a brief dictating creation of the iconic Moulin Rouge in Paris into a Dance School. Moulin Rouge had Manish Gulati, Abhinav Chaudhary, Maithili Raut, Rohit Mankar and Sabyasachi Ghosh heading the creative team.
The design was metaphorically represented through a windmill in motion that symbolised a century of Moulin Rouge’s vibrant and kaleidoscopic history, even as it remained an abstraction within the building.
Its blades reinterpreted the magic of Moulin Rouge, represented by forms and shapes as twisted as them.
Users of the building are made to feel that they are being observed from the various coordinates in the multiple concentric circles, which is reminiscent of the pulsating culture of Paris.
Dehli Pollution Control Committe
The Head Office of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, was dimensionally different from Moulin Rouge’s imaginative makeover. It called for an affirmation of the organisation’s raison d’être, demanding sustainability as a key ingredient.
This kept Manish Gulati, Tanushree Gulati, Shuchita Jain, Amit Palia and Shabina Shahin on their toes as they went about designing this award-winning competition entry that culminated into a five-storey building with underground parking!
Created to give a feel of an urban ‘sponge’ feeding on the polluted air and water of its microclimate, yet having a giving nature, the design showed how the ‘sponge’ was compelled to dispense clean air and water.
The building controls the northwestern winds prevalent in the metropolis, as subdued sunlight naturally fills and cools the building while reducing the need for artificial light during the day.
Vertical green walls boost the oxygen exchange, while underground mechanical filters force polluted hot air from the basement through the hollow walls in the winter acting as a heater as they alleviate pollution. During summers, rooftop mechanical filters infuse fresh air to control pollution.
Additionally, an inverted parasol design given to the roof extends the length of the building and functions as an upturned basin for rainwater harvesting. The hollow steel columns serve an underground reservoir providing for the office’s water supply.
The ‘bubbles’ are metaphorical representations of clean air bubbles lined with photovoltaic cells that are released back into the atmosphere. (This is under process for 5 star GRIHA rating).
Thus, the M:OFA team’s idea of truly living the architectural dream imaginatively and responsibly is having an organization that preaches low pollution and sets an example by having its own micro environment.
The Tara re-development was a case study effort taken on by Manish Gulati, Tanushree Gulati and Abhinandan Mandal and carried out at the behest of the Tara Co-operative Society using the 2021 Master Plan of Delhi.
The idea of the study was to explore the vertical skyline as proposed in the new master plan, safeguarding the sensibilities of horizontal living spaces.
Dwellers at Tara Apartments, designed by Charles Correa in the seventies, are unanimous in saying that the quality of life it provides, with all the greenery surrounding the apartment structure, is like having a refuge from the fast moving, noisy metro Delhi has unavoidably become.
To make the dwelling spaces eco-friendly, sustainable, beautiful and useful in modern times, the concept proposed 60 additional flats, besides adding accessible visible gardens, light and ventilation, greenery and reducing hard ground coverage. A parking space for 450 vehicles was added to this provision, which granted stepping and massing features to new flats to enable the feel of living in ‘bungalows suspended in space!’
Extensions, encroachment, structural changes, parking and services issues that are likely to crop up, as well as the risks of low-road levels (flooding etc) of Tara during the monsoons were other topics for the team’s task analysis.
M:OFA credits great design to those unspoken traces of emotions in spaces, voids, openings and scales that enable the user to unify with conversations and emotions. We figure the reason for their sustained inspirational levels stems from disparate passions (ranging from cooking, art, architecture, music and poetry) keeps them together when conceptualising buildings – built, or otherwise.
M:OFA’s Best Kept Secret: Manish occasionally trades his drawing board for a chef’s hat and is reputed to be a ‘foodie’ who can map most cities by their food landmarks apart from being able to pick its architectural landmarks!
He rates food on factors, like balance of taste, structure, sculpture, texture, aroma, aesthetics, presentation, all adding to the layering of the final product – much like what is expected in the world of a pro architectural practice – albeit, with a much faster turn around time.
Text By Deepanjolie Sonya Figg
Photographs Courtesy M:OFA