Malik Architecture’s design for this office responds ably to the key requirements of space; it also matches their own high aesthetic standards.
It’s a new city, a modern city. Gleaming white structures climb upwards gaining different heights forming varied shapes. They cluster together in small groups, murmurs tumble out from within. The visitor stops. ‘Am I intruding?’ he wonders. A susurrus of welcome floats through the streets and he ventures into explore this city from the future.
When Malik Architecture was approached to design a new office space, the client was very clear about what he wanted the office design to do: translate the hierarchy of the organisation into a coherent open office solution that maximises internal discussion, whilst maintaining a basic privacy level.
The task at hand for the design team was to give physical form to the client’s expectations. It was clear from the brief that a certain number of acoustically insulated but visually transparent private workspaces would be required. Besides that an organisational chart of one senior plus four juniors as part of a team comprised the requirement for the majority of the open office space.
Architect Arjun Malik says, “Through our work, we have tried to develop an idiom that would reconcile the intellectual and intuitive aspects of architecture, that would provide a tangible link to the past without getting nostalgic, that would be technologically progressive without being experientially stunted, and that would, ultimately, speak through the intangible science of perceptual phenomena.” For this project the concept of an internal street and courts was developed. Monolithic blocks were sculpted to house the workstations of each group. Each of these islands was designed based on its location along the ‘street’.
The layout has also imbibed the client’s requirement of enabling discussion while affording privacy. The blocks are placed such that each team has an internal courtyard-like space to itself, a space that promotes discussion and interaction within the team. This is the ‘court face’.
Here, worktops and screens have been set in to black magnetic glass solution that maintains a monolithic expression when the screens are hibernating. Every block also has what was termed by the design team as the ‘street face’. Sculpture, art and books find space in the street facade and infuse colour accents into the otherwise stark colour palette. Thirteen different modules were developed after multiple iterations based on the workflow the relationship to the street, and to the module adjacent to it.
The ceiling height in the space was found to be restrictive, limiting the flow of natural light into the area. “These limitations had to be countered,” says Arjun “and so we decided that establishing a monochromatic vocabulary would help expand and unify the perception of space, a homogeneous yet differentiated syntax.”
Apart from the colour scheme where white dominates the walls set off by the grey tone adorning the floor, the lighting in this office space adds to the futuristic semblance.
Talking about the aspects of illumination Arjun says, “Light has always been a subject of fascination, and an integral part of our work, whether as a visceral sculpting tool, or as an implied metaphor.” In this project too, light plays an important role both in practical and aesthetic terms, streaking zigzag across the ceiling, incised into the ceiling plane these not only functionally link the islands but also provide a sense of continuity and movement as one walks through the office.
A single flight of stairs made of folded stainless steel connects the main work floor below to the CEO’s private suite which occupies the upper level. The same monochromatic colour palette connects the two levels. But, since the upper level is mainly devoted to the CEO’s office, it is planned to service his requirements.
As a parting shot Arjun says, “I personally feel that, like meaningful cinema and literature, the experience of architecture should be a gradual process of revealing; where with every successive ‘viewing’ or ‘reading’ layers could be peeled back and embedded constructs and metaphors could be allowed to emerge.”
Text By Himali Kothari
Photographs Bharath Ramamrutham