Lines are the language, and a cut-out becomes a punctuation mark in an office remodelled by young architect Gaurav Roy Choudhury in Bengaluru.
On a very busy street in the congested mercantile Gandhinagar area of Bengaluru is a five storied building that houses R.K. Fabrics, an import-export cloth business. In this old, neglected, rent controlled building, R.K. Fabrics can trace its lineage from a small room to a space that now occupies three floors.
Explains architect Gaurav Roy Choudhury, “Instead of moving out to another, easily accessible part of the city, the client decided to restructure its office premise and remain at the same place from where it all began.”
Credit goes to the client for giving complete creative liberty with merely but a few pre-conditions to the design team of GRCA, a Bengaluru based design practice headed by Gaurav Roy Choudhury. The newly remodelled structure is a far cry from its original avatar. Says Choudhury, “The client had no long list of do’s and don’ts. His only demand was to consolidate his office in the same place from where he started.”
In its original outline, R.K. Fabrics occupied two and a half independent floors and half of a terrace; all of which functioned separately and were accessed by the common building staircase. The basic design concept which the team defines as, “integrating the floors to create one pulsating space, in perception and in experience” was born out of understanding this building constraint.
The team got about the task by sculpting out a cut out in the structural skeleton that started on the third floor entry level and ended in a skylight on the terrace. A perfect welcome is created at this entry point to the office right under the opening, where bright sun rays smile down through all the working floors.
Once inside, a network of lines as the predominant pattern narrates the layout of the office. These lines were derived in part from the structure of the building and in part from the logo of the company.
Wood essayed in two colours – white and brown, script the entire interior spaces starting at the third floor, climbing onto the workstations and continuing through the cut-out to finally terminate at the skylight. Here Gaurav points out, “Since each floor area was small, the cut-out too was narrow and linear. The lines were meant to accentuate these cut-outs as they unified the separate floors.”
“The force and momentum of the lines, hold the office together. They tie and release at the same time. Their ends were left untied as they reach the skylight; their fate is open-ended, just like of the business,” says Choudhury intensely. The third floor level accommodates the administrative part including cabin suites, and work-stations all fused through the white and brown linear pattern.
Variation in pattern yet similarity in colour are obvious in the administration cabins on the third-floor level and in the owner’s suite on the fourth floor. The owners suite is placed strategicaly between both the floors it enables him to be in sync with all the activities of the office, it also has a confrence table for internal and private meetings.
The design hub located on the fifth floor follows the colour and pattern theme, but adding to the drama are mirrors placed strategically. These mirrors which were thought as ‘a continuation of the lines’ double up as pivoted pin boards for the designers.
The cut-out is the epicentre of the design, assuming distinctive duties in each floor. While on the third floor, it dons the role of an entry point; on the fourth floor, the cut-out is the foreground for the linear flow while at the fifth floor the cut-out divides the space into two zones. The idea of the cut-out was to simulate an urban level breathing point – where windows open onto and people interact thus increasing the energy and dynamism of the office.
In the team’s words, “breaking through the slabs, connecting the floors and eventually hitting light, the volume emerges into the skies.” Through a language of lines and a simple material and colour palette, the GRCA team has decoded the growth and dynamic development of the company into architecture; the final creation resonates with both the ethos of Gaurav Roy Choudhury’s design sensibility and with the business of R.K. Fabrics.
Text By K Parvathy Menon
Photographs Sindur Reddy Courtesy The Architects