Opolis Architects delve into the textural qualities of materials and create a space that is a result of a keen exploration of their numerous permutations and combinations; using diverse palettes.
The word ‘office’ brings to mind dull, insipid spaces with an array of desks lined in a stiff pattern. But, all offices need not be spin-offs of typical boring spaces; they can be formal yet exciting, an example is an office in Kolkata designed by the Mumbai based firm Opolis Architects. This 5,400 square feet space was transformed from an empty shell into a space defined by organisational hierarchy with the help of an exploration of materials and textures.
The client, a steel and ceramic company, was no stranger to the construction industry and hence wanted to delve into textural material qualities and use a palette that did not include wood in any form. “The client’s brief was simple, we want an office that is different from all others!” share the principal architects, Sonal Sancheti and Rahul Gore,
Explains Sonal Sancheti, “No use of wood? – this was a design challenge which we took on to explore the various hierarchies in the organisation. We translated them by using a material colour palette composed of black, white and shades of grey, this allowed us in making an office space that matched the company’s corporate philosophy.”
An extremely low ceiling height of 8’- 6” was a construction constraint, but any perception of cramped, small spaces was negated with the use of glazing on three sides which ensured abundant natural light and a feeling of spaciousness. After the necessary false ceilings, an 8 feet flat plate volume was created which was further enhanced by creating interlacing spatial zones based on the continuous floor and ceiling plates.
The architects thoughtfully positioned the cabins, workstations and meeting rooms, in accordance to the influx of natural light and orientation. While the meeting rooms and compact storages form the core, cabins line the periphery along the glazing and the open workstations find themselves placed on the northern side, enjoying a complete advantage of the uniform northern daylight.
Talking about the finer nuances of the space, Rahul Gore adds “The project has been designed in four layers, from the external glazing to the internal core storage spaces – each one is identified by a particular material.” Another interesting feature of the office is the partitions, which both Sonal Sancheti and Rahul Gore deem as one of the office’s best design elements.
To quote them, “The design of the stainless steel mesh dividers and the floating black partition required precise engineering to get the effect right.”
While peeking into the cabins, Sonal Sancheti expounds, “We have given individuals occupying the cabins an opportunity to customise their own spaces.” Inside the cabins, the black MDF partitions double up as shelves in different primary colours, breaking up the monotony of the monochromatic palette. This pleasantly surprises any visitor, as from the outside there is no hint of the colour explosion present inside.
Another exciting element seen in the planning is the spatial flexibility the architects incorporated into the rooms. The smaller meeting rooms can be combined to make a larger room whenever required by rearranging the furniture and walls.
The architects add, “The use of the material palette devoid of wood is the one of the most notable features of our design”, they worked the material constraint of ‘no wood policy’ to their advantage by exploring other options in unlimited ways creating exciting and inspiring interiors.
The best reward, say the architects, was when the client told them, “We are amazed by the feedback not only from our customers but also from our employees, who feel that this space is not only different but more importantly it has a strong sense of positive energy within it.”
Text By K Parvathy Menon Photographs Courtesy The Architects and Vivek Das