The Mathrubhumi Television Studio created by Malik Architects is angular, trendy and strikingly edgy; here aesthetic brilliance comes to fore through structural explorations.
The Mumbai based multi-disciplinary design practice, Malik Architecture, was approached by one of the oldest media houses of Kerala to expand their existing facility. Fulfilling a brief that included many technical spaces, the design team came up with an edgy, angular and trendy scheme that relates strongly with the prime time media house.
With over thirty seven years of experience, Malik Architecture is known for its innovative approach which they describe as ‘a contemporary design syntax which is a synthesis of ecology and spirit’. The design team that included Arjun Malik, Mahesh Suthar and Ketan Seta, moulded the 30,000 sq. ft. space in such a way that its visual vocabulary speaks of clean powerful lines, a minimalistic approach and a calming neutral backdrop suffused with ample light.
As you enter the studio an old printing machinery relic greets the visitor, further inside are clean achromatic surroundings that calmly guide you ahead – what lies in store are spaces which are not too loud but that certainly make their presence felt.
Sitting in the waiting room and absorbing the panorama, you realise that what meets the eye does not conform to conventional box shaped rooms; instead the design balances bold and subtle structural features, lights, textures and colours – all of which when combined afford a range of spatial experiences.
The client’s brief required the architects to fit into an already existing building (that housed their printing facility) a variety of studios, staff working areas, a cafeteria, conference rooms and ancillary services. The existing structure had its pros and cons and raised innumerable questions for introducing the new programme. Arjun Malik says, quite so nonchalantly, “There are always time and budget constraints, the architectural expertise lies in working the constraints to one’s advantage.” This achievement is evident in every nook and corner of the television studio.
A large central 15 ft. high ground floor volume flanked by shallow spaces on either side created structural and design complications. Arjun Malik points out, “It was stripped clean of all non-structural elements and we put the primary open studio at the far end of this space with critical staff working areas with glass walls in the foreground, within a hexagonal network.” This manoeuvre allowed natural light to penetrate the depths of the structure affording an easy visual access into the studios.
Inadequate height was yet another major issue encountered while accommodating the three studios – an open broadcast studio, a sequestered regional studio and a large audience studio. In response, the architects modified the existing roof profile at the front of the building to accommodate the additional height requirements of the audience studio and its accompanying services.
For the regional studio, the team went past the hitches by providing a creative and inimitable solution – a sculpted translucent regional studio. The team describes it as ‘a sculptural insert within the primary volume’. Binding planes of this studio are inclined and semi-transparent, and from the exterior they create new dimensions, offering a unique spatial experience. The jutting white lucid walls also take the spaces from ‘archetypal’ to ‘sui generis’.
Walking through the maze like passages into the workstation area, the striking image of the customised hexagonal ceiling lights seeks your attention. Thought of as a network, the design team has translated the floating interlinked linear luminaire system as a precise task lighting device. “Conceptually, this gesture exemplifies an approach that values the generation of the design idiom as a derivative of functional planning, as opposed to whimsical artifice,” elaborates Arjun Malik.
The workstations are in dark shades of grey and brown, deviating from the regular ashen colours used across the studio. Bordered by the angular studio walls jutting out, there exists a visual dynamism that is matched by the broadcast display panels at the other end of the workstation.
Along with a refitting of the interior spaces the exteriors too were given a face lift. “The existing structure had a dilapidated and chaotic external appearance so we gave the facade a skin of corrugated metal and translucent polycarbonate and relocated the existing frontal to the rear, thus freeing up space for a landscaped entrance,” explains Architect Arjun Malik.
Mathrubhumi is a name that evokes emotions in many hearts of Kerala, and Malik Architecture has given the television studio a space that defines its history and future in one arena. There are hexagonal lights that appear futuristic, angular walls and inclined translucent extensions, colourful wall art expressing various moments in the evolution of paper; all put into a canvas that is a balance of design dominated through a structural approach and not a well orchestrated piece of architecture merely following a trend.
Text By K Parvathy Menon
Photos Courtesy Bharath Ramamrutham