Mumbai-based DCOOP (Design Cooperative) likes to function on a practical and contextually solid ground, preferring to build structures that are modern, efficient and beautiful.
DCOOP was born in 2003, the brainchild of the principals, Quaid Doongerwala and Shilpa Ranade. For a decade it has amassed experience in building retail establishments, office spaces, residences, institutions and urban design projects.
The firm has an uncomplicated approach to work – understand the context and demands of a project well, and work to create modern, efficient structures. It also professes the aim of “evolving environmentally and socially appropriate design solutions”.
As the following three projects show, DCOOP’s heart is in solid conceptualising and construction. A mere whim is not a consideration here unless it evolves organically during the thought process. That restraint ensures spaces that are built to ‘feel’ good, apart from just looking good.
Indigo Consultants, Mumbai
This had to be the working space of a young software development firm, Indigo Consultants, so the design team took full advantage of the need to build an office representative of unconventional ideas. Eclecticism was a given here from the word go, and has been efficiently realised with the help of a fun mix of materials and styles, and an approach that the team has christened, ‘Patch-On’.
Randomness is established through exposed nuts and bolts, metal clips and screws, while the metal sheet divisions seem like a salute to the tin-shed abodes of scores of denizens of space-starved Mumbai.
Multi-coloured transparent panels on doors and shelves add an element of pop-art to the scheme, while also fulfilling the need of modern offices to have open, interconnected spaces. The three-pronged design brief for the project was – efficiency, flexibility and attitude – and the DCOOP team has indeed delivered in style.
Student Hostel, Andhra Pradesh
Hostels can be painfully drab living spaces, and DCOOP knew right from the start that this project will have to attempt to change that. To flip the tradition, the team decided to give the students of Y. V. University lessons in “swivels”, “hollows”, “slides” and “stacks”. The room blocks here are modular, and they join in to the main grid of the structure.
There are columns galore in the blocks, making sure that the floors are dotted with impetuous shadows. There are canopied and overhung structures, and there are terraces that afford great views of the surroundings.
But stylistic pizzazz aside, the building has also been shaped by great sensitivity to the weather conditions of the city of Cudappah. The team was well aware of the lean resources for the project throughout, and worked consciously to build sweeps of open sociable spots for the students. But what becomes the cherry on the cake in this scheme is the jaali work – sweeps of stout concrete that form sloping patterns of symmetry and slice sunlight into enigmatic shadows on the floor. It is a show-stopping touch indeed!
This installation project is the firm’s take on the utility-driven architecture of the city of Mumbai. The commercial city’s landscape is a woven pattern developed out of business needs and acute and perennial crunches of space. It has influenced patterns of products, as a result and also the whole character of its streets and markets. Diwan-e-aam was entered by Doongerwala and Ranade, for an exhibition titled ‘What makes India Urban’ at Aedes Gallery, Berlin.
“The BOX attempts to capture the essence of this multi-hued, volatile and adaptive world of the Indian street,” states the team. The project is also the team’s effort at holding on to and displaying the unique method-in-chaos tenor of Indian markets, in contrast to the slick banality of display patterns that abound abroad and are slowly infiltrating Indian markets as well.
It is an ode to the practicality-driven artistry of the streets and the undoubted genius of space management behind it. The project draws inspration from many fronts – from the intricacy of the traditional jaali form, to large and small floral motifs, and multi-tasking drawer shelves that hide a multitude of little treasures that can become totems of the city.
Text By Shruti Nambiar
Photographs Rajesh Vora
Courtesy DCOOP Mumbai