Noida-based Archohm plays across an impressive range of design work, where it combines fearless innovation and global ideas into good-looking but practical products.
With bases in Noida (set up in 1999), Holland (2002), and Libya (2009), Archohm’s work culture is seeped deep into everything design. Admittedly chasing a “mad and fun” attitude towards whatever it takes up, the firm has built up an impressive repertoire of design innovations. This list includes schools and offices, toll plaza structures and myriad products – Archohm is unafraid of skating across the range.
Its extra-curricular activities too are just as design-centric. Through annual international design workshop, Archoforum; monthly newsletter, Archometer; annual expedition, Archotour; and student competition, Archontention; Archohm keeps its design radar buzzing through the year. Its partnership with lifestyle and product boutique, Zolijns, founded by Archohm managing director Sourabh Gupta, sources European furniture and design props for the Indian market. An inter-disciplinary design educational campus is also part of this design empire.
Apart from its construction and interior core concerns, Archohm has managed to build an impressive product range that tests the limits of conceptual art.
Often using disparate materials, the firm has always come out with products that have an avant-garde exterior but have solid utilitarian credentials.
One of the most impressive of these is the Le Corbusier’s Knowledge ‘Hand’ at the entrance of studio Archohm. Like all consummate practitioners of a craft, Archohm’s office is itself a temple of design innovation and calculated ‘madness’.
The ambition and inspirations of this project are staggering, to say the least.
Taurian World School
Spread over 42 acres, everything about this school can be prefixed with ‘state-of-the-art’.
This sprawling campus is a kaleidoscope of ideas and forms, no doubt a great thing for an educational institution. This begins right at the gate, which is a 25-foot monster with the looks of a sheet of paper that came out of craft class.
The crux of the beauty of this structure is its mad detours – sometimes it looks like a straitlaced management building, but somewhere a brick wall comes up and takes you by surprise.
The stone cobbled lanes and the pruned vegetation gives it the sheen of a luxury resort, but then there are also courtyard-like spaces that give you the feel of a rural ensconce.
This diversity in style and treatment within one project cements Archohm’s commitment to constant re-invention. This school’s identity is a combined effect of its segmented buildings and spaces, what with even the classrooms embracing smaller corners for assembly and discussion.
Even in the grand play of material and scale here, the firm’s inclusion of lots of space, shapes and greenery points to its deep sensitivity to a student’s needs.
The Concrete Triangle
Some of the amazing innovations are the ones which just turn regular ideas on their head, and then execute them with unworldly boldness. So is the case with Archohm’s Concrete Triangle. It too survived an initial phase of scepticism, but stuck to its formula, and is today one of the most popular products in the firm’s impressive catalogue.
This product’s bafflement factor is that it looks like an unwieldy hunk of concrete but is actually light, polished on the top, and a holy mix of formality and casualness.
Its cantilevered edges and a central support system give it the effect of a spaceship that has landed in a meeting room. It also allows for more seating possibilities, and of course with its unusual triangular shape, almost demands unconventionality in thoughts and words. It is to the credit of the development team that their zeal for creating something different never dimmed their dedication to providing practical and reliable alternatives.
The Knowledge Hand
On the other end of this spectrum stands an eerie piece of genius – the Hand, also called, Le Corbusier’s Knowledge Hand. Part tribute, part design experiment, and part measured kookiness, this installation at studio Archohm may look like a clump of mangled metal, but forms the most amazing hand-shaped shadow on the ‘chowk’ of the building.
Made of plumbing pipes, electrical conduits, reinforcement bars, and other slag pieces from Archohm’s usual business activities, this one is testimony to the firm’s inventiveness, and its taste for fun.
Text By Shruti Nambiar
Photos By Humayun Khan, Andre J Fanthome