The office of Architecture and Beyond in Surat has been built as a studio space, but infused with the warmth, fluidity and utilitarian perfection of a tasteful home.
If an ideal office today is one that lies on the cusp of the home and work space, then this one truly fits the bill. In recent years, many office spaces have tried to push the limits of form, design and theme in a bid to stand out, but most importantly to afford their employees a feeling of belonging to an organisation with a difference.
The Architecture and Beyond studio in Surat, Gujarat, achieves this coveted distinction by working on a subtle palette dominated by wood, brick and glass. Since it is a studio space and not just a place dedicated to mechanical work, much thought has been invested in building a warm, nurturing environment where ideas can safely grow, and then move out when it’s time.
Because it faces a busy road, the office has been provided a deliberate calm. A beautiful courtyard leads up to it, an element that enhances the homeliness of the space greatly. The peaceful aesthetics of this section are complemented by a line of trees, and that primary premise of all Zen thoughts – a lotus pond (and a water spout added here for good effect!).
Walking across on grey tiles, and cutting through the shadows, will prove to be a good welcome every day. But the impressive eyebrow-raiser is the block of the conference room which is movable, and can jut out to go closer to the pond when the mood suggests so.
The team admits that through the office they intended to challenge the “tradition of logical assembly of functions, and attempt to create a secular and livelier environment that engages the occupants with light, reflections, and textures.” The firm is a great believer of the power that architecture and interior design has in influencing the creativity of its occupants, leading to every one of their projects being as conscious of cultural sensibilities as of budget and material.
The team has allowed the natural hue and character of the materials to stay true, accentuating their ruggedness with bespoke furniture pieces. Entry is through a mirrored door, and once inside, there is a more fluid, casual break-up of spaces instead of rigid sections with severe division walls.
Though most of the shapes around are conventional, they are contrasted by relatively eccentric props. This is further enhanced by specially designed light fixtures, and an industrial sweep of light instead of just short bursts of illumination.
The conference room is a superbly dynamic place with a feel of so much happening, thanks to the slit doors and windows, milky curtains and of course, because of almost being afloat on a pond.
Like in a home of gypsies, everything here is ready to move. Almost everything here has wheels, taking the idea of fluidity to a whimsical edge. To keep the floors clear for immediate movement and work, storage boxes hang from the ceiling in the work-station. Acrylic drafting tables transform into conference table tops, and there are personalised mobile storage caddies to encourage you to move about and ideate.
The 85 square metres of this office is dedicated to a firm that obviously works as a family, and naturally expects a work space that feels like home. The founders, Aashish and Bhavesh Patel, are young professionals and their fresh perspective extends to where they work. This office clearly embodies the trademark of the architectural team – a mix of the traditional and the rebellious, sweeps of sublime shades, and interiors strewn with unexpected surprises.
Text By Shruti Nambiar
Photographs Courtesy The Architect