Surat-based Architecture & Beyond is dedicated to building simple, dynamic residences and offices that focus on freedom of movement and multi-dimensional features.
Architecture & Beyond (A&B) embodies the spirit of many young Indian architectural firms. It prefers to focus on the basics, and use natural textures and hues as much as possible. While frill and pizzazz is not the primary go-to response for these design teams, it is expertly employed whenever the need for it is felt and this sense of quiet confidence permeates through all A&B projects.
They are usually sparse on the outset, but a good analysis would reveal the layered thought processes behind what came to be. A&B’s personal style is to create spaces that are multi-dimensional, no matter what the built area. They always try to question the linear and the hyper-defined, preferring instead to design homes and offices that afford movement and change.
Principals Aashish Patel and Bhavesh Patel have led this multiple award-winning firm based in Surat, Gujarat, since its establishment in 2011.
This was originally a 3BHK flat on the 11th floor of an apartment building in Surat, Gujarat, which was converted into a customised 2BHK flat. Admittedly, the most remarkable feature here was the skylight, which ultimately influenced the choice of the materials, colours and textures used for the interiors.
“Considering the amount of natural light, rough and smooth natural materials are juxtaposed freely; like shaded golden kota, concrete finished walls, metal handles, polish on waterproof ply, a chocolate brown carpet, and rustic finish leather, amongst others,” states the team.
The predominant colour tones here are brown and grey, but the design team has evidently worked hard to include both modern and relatively traditional furniture pieces to create a feel of eclecticism.
The dining area is cordoned off by an 80 kg curtain made of heavy wooden pellets, while its ceiling features interesting lamp fixtures aping the shape of water pots.
A transparent central table acts as a collection box for newspapers which invariably collect in Indian households. Smart touches such as these make the Soham Residence a project of remarkable depth.
Architecture & Beyond Office
It speaks volumes about an architectural firm when one of its best projects is its own office. With a carpet area of 85.5 sq. mt. the Architecture & Beyond office is a breathing, dynamic ensconce whose aim is to flip the linearity of working spaces and make them more artist-friendly.
A sublime lotus pond stands below the entrance courtyard. Once inside there is a fluid division of space; discussion spaces to the left and work studios to the right.
Wood, metal, and brick dominate the material composition, and the illumination is all industrial and highly customised. To set an example of creative freedom, the office hides smart features – by working some gears, the conference room can be made to jut out over the lotus studio.
One knows this is a truly open-minded space because most of the furniture pieces are mobile, and many of them are also multi-dimensional to facilitate multiple uses – like the acrylic drafting tables that can be turned into a conference table of any preferred length. A&B has built for itself a slick space to work out of, but like the best of purveyors, has created its own advertisement of skill as well.
Love, Sugar & Dough
If one is to look carefully, all the evidence is right there. The interiors of the sweet haven, Love Sugar & Dough in Surat, Gujarat, have been carefully designed to conjure up the same culinary treats guests can hope to enjoy there.
The space may be small (117 sq. ft.), but the A&B design team has ensured that LSD is much like an éclair, surprising and impetuous on the inside, and a solid shade on the outside; a beautiful brick wall becomes the facade of the shop, whereas from the outside an interesting play of plywood renders it as an abstract structure. This design scheme is clearly intended to add a bit of youthful zest to the area.
Inside, the low-seating and the MDF board walls sport layered splashes of colour, while on the ceiling there is a marvellous source of warm light seeping through lamps made of inverted jelly jars. Sure seems like the perfect place to dig into a pastry.