What happens when an old factory warehouse area becomes the base for a futuristic voyage? But of course, the resultant space oozes with creativity and becomes iconic in its own right…
Auriga, a new Pan-Asian eatery is located in Mumbai’s now very famous, ‘Famous Studio Lane’ at Mahalaxmi. Occupying 4000 sq. ft. the space stands out like a work of art. The name “Auriga” is also the name of a constellation and this is the starting point for many similarities between space and a futuristic, outer-worldly décor.
Sanjay Puri Architects have been at the helm of this project and have created sculptural spaces within this two level bar and restaurant in South Mumbai, which are nothing short of awe inspiring.
The upper level (which has a better view), houses a restaurant space and the lower level opening onto an outdoor patio is the nightclub.
Aluminium box sections that are poised differently in each panel create a stunningly artistic look on the outside. The entire building exterior is constituted of these. The fins so formed allow natural light to infuse the interior and also open up the insides to the views of the large trees present outside while providing adequate privacy at the same time.
The walls of the restaurant area are unique in that they are made up of wood. This feature is an outcome of a novel way of handling this element. “Rather than perceiving walls and ceilings as separate entities as is done in most cases, angular planes that fold from the floor along both the horizontal and vertical planes gradually transform into the ceiling creating a unifying envelope for the entire space,” says Puri.
These planes are constituted out of thin plywood strips which are stacked together; these create a textural quality with the help of the play of light and shadow across the rippled surfaces of the undulating angular folds, giving the space its most distinctive feature.
Lights have been used to good effect in the décor. More so since the space is a restaurant, the use of lights became crucial in creating the right ambience. “The lower level is almost entirely sculpted out of metal strips forming abstractly folding planes that envelope the walls, columns, ceiling and bar counter. The entire design was created with the integration of light with every panel having spaces between the metal fins for indirect coloured light to filter through,” explains Puri.
The use of metal itself as the predominant material was adopted so that light reflects on its angled surfaces creating a unique effect. Each louver of metal in each triangular panel is angled to allow light to reflect its edges. The varied composition creates different effects in each panel due to the LEDs that backlight them.
The eventual result is that only the lines of light are visible angling differently in each part of the bar with dimmable halogens focused on the tables and the bar. Floor lights along the periphery bounce light off the metal sheets throughout the space additionally.
To enhance the varied angles and textural quality of the sculpted space on the upper level, floor lights along the columns and periphery have been used to reflect light onto the angled planes. “Lighting has thus played a pivotal role in the design from the conceptual stage itself, becoming an integral element of the spaces and their perception,” explains Puri.
Working in an old space and creating an extremely striking piece of work is no small task. What was the most challenging aspect of the project? “The challenge was to create 3 distinctly different areas; a café, a bar and a restaurant that would flow into each other and yet be perceived as distinctly different spaces. It was also quite challenging to use simple basic materials and yet transform the internal spaces giving them their own unique identity. Only galvanised iron sheets and plywood have been used throughout most of the interior space and it is the way these simple materials have been dealt with, with special detailing that makes the spaces look sculptural,” reveals Puri.
For the architect, the 24 feet high void space where one enters the restaurant and gets a glimpse of the abstract metal sheathed bar area on one side and simultaneously sees the undulating textural wood on the upper level and the resultant complementing and contrasting perceptions make one feel that one is literally within a sculpture is the most interesting aspect of this design.
Entering Auriga is like walking into art itself!
Text Dhanishta Shah
Photographs Vinesh Gandhi