D&C Developers’ corporate office in Ahmedabad has been designed by ‘u design studio’; with this project the design and architectural firm has gone ahead and redefined the meaning of Indian contemporary by adding just the right pinch of traditional sensibility to a dish mainly imbued with modern flavour.
“Whether a retail property or an office space, the designer’s responsibility is to enhance its brand value by providing the best possible design solutions,” says Umang, principal designer of the studio. He firmly believes that the work environment in an office needs to be properly established and be devoid of any distraction points.
Located opposite the Mahatma Gandhi Labour Institute in Ahmedabad, this 5000 sq ft office sits on the fifth floor of Kairos, a commercial building designed by Umang’s brother Pratik. The clients envisaged a timeless design amalgamating modern aesthetics with native Indian elements.
Umang drew inspiration from the rural setting of Indian villages and decided for the material palette to consist predominantly of natural materials. The core essence of the concept was to create a soothing work experience amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.
The entry to the office has been designed based on the concept of ‘atithi devo bhava’ a traditional Indian sentiment that puts a guest on the same pedestal as God. A gokhla at the reception and teak jaali work on the main door form the focus of the foyer space.
The jaali work continues in the form of partitions throughout the office, creating a unifying thread of indigenous elements. A custom-cut sandstone logo of the company coupled with polished kota stone flooring ensures a natural, rustic feel while the detailing maintains the contemporary edge.
Natural light seeps into the interiors through fine grooves and cut-outs made in the exposed RCC slab. As the sun moves overhead from morning to evening, the changing patterns of light and shadow create a dramatic, yet serene, experience within the waiting area. Enclosed with clear glass panels for security reasons, this space is physically cordoned off from the main office area, yet maintains visual connectivity with it.
Adjacent to the waiting area, the open terrace forms the heart of the office. Further, it acts as a transition space between the waiting area and the conference room. Originally, this terrace had been left unattended. Seeing endless design potential in the open-to-sky space, Umang’s team incorporated it within the overall scheme.
In keeping with the traditional theme, an idol of a deity has been placed at the entrance. This is believed to be auspicious.
A roof made of polished wooden rafters and a thick band of polished kota passing through the base of the columns maintains the mood board of local materials. The teak wood columns are detailed with long, fine grooves adding to the ethnic aesthetic. Customised light fittings highlight these grooves. A wooden swing completes the space and the terrace offers panoramic views of the sprawling city of Ahmedabad.
In the conference room, two adjacent sides have been kept open, while the other two are made up of exposed brick walls. This stark contrast of opacity and transparency ensures that this space looks out towards the terrace. The roof of polished wooden rafters continues within this space too and enables a seamless binding between the exteriors and interiors. A custom-made teak wood suspended light fixture illuminates the room with diffused white light just as required.
In the main office area, the exposed concrete ceiling together with the polished kota flooring and exposed brick walls enhance the rustic theme. Soft furnishings in a mix of Indian accent colours like magenta, shocking pink and royal blue provide a contemporary touch and help brighten up the interiors.
The work desks are made out of teak wood and back-painted glass. Here, too, custom-made teak wood suspended light fixtures illuminate the desks. In the director’s cabin, a small partition made of brick divides the chamber into formal and informal discussion areas. The design and joinery details of seating elements have been inspired by the traditional khatla which is used in villages.
On entering the staff area, there is a warm sense of welcome. Wide passages allow the spaces to blend and flow with ease. “We have tried to break the monotony of typical workspaces by incorporating lots of wood in the design. A sense of freshness surrounds you as you walk into the work zone,” says Umang. An assortment of art pieces further contribute towards making the space livelier.
The office is richly layered and textured with an eclectic mix of materials, be it in the choice of furniture, soft furnishings or the art work. The design is simple and earthy, and a cozy environment has been established.
Based in Ahmedabad, u design studio is an office consisting of an in-house architect (Pratik Soni), interior designer, graphic designer, landscape designer, art designer, model maker, photographer and a team of contractors. Driven by the pursuit of quality, the studio believes that our surroundings directly affect the quality of our lives, whether in the work place, at home, or in the public spaces in between. “We are concerned with the physical context of a project, and are sensitive to the culture and climate of the place,” says Umang.
In the design of the D&C Developers’ corporate office, the firm focuses strongly on the tactile and sensory qualities of the space. Localised skills and resources have been actively integrated with state-of-the-art materials to create a design process that is both sustainable and culturally relevant.
Text By Ar. Priti Kalra
Photographs Courtesy Dhrupad Sukla & Anand Sukla