Jindal Pipes Office, Gurgaon: Retrofit by Morphogenesis
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Immensely talented and driven by the need to excel, Manit and Sonali Rastogi have lead the young and diversely qualified team at Morphogenesis through a comprehensive and commendable portfolio of very diverse yet brilliantly resolved and executed design projects. A recipient of over 60 international and national awards and the first Indian practice to win a WAF (World Architecture Festival) award and the Singapore Institute of Architects SIA Getz Award, Morphogenesis’ bouquet of accomplishments and awards can only be matched by their own body of work. Having internalised a ‘start-from–the-basics’ approach in their design process, and having made sustainability and restraint their second nature, their design solutions are marked by originality and sophistication.
The office for Jindal Pipes Ltd. was to be housed in an existing structure in Gurgaon which was originally intended for a different purpose. When the team led by Ar.Sonali Rastogi wove its magic around the place, it was hard to tell it was retrofitted!
A design project of around 45,000 sq ft of built up area spread over ground plus two floors of a building with an oversized courtyard in the centre surely presented itself as a sort of unwieldy challenge for the project to begin with. Particularly, the courtyard being disproportionately large resulted in unwarranted heat gain throughout the building.
The designers have adopted an approach of breaking down the huge volume of space into components of functional areas and problem spaces and addressing their solutions individually. This has also helped in dealing with the considerably deep floor plates to bring them down to a relatable scale. Applying a street typology in response to a brief that required more than 50% of the spaces to be of a non-workstation type, the designers have created individualised spaces, meeting and conference rooms lounges and cabins each having a special allotted identity expressed through their individual styles, colour schemes and so on, that one can encounter walking down the ‘street’ i.e. the passages.
Also, the plan reveals itself in layers, as on every floor they have an outer layer of office spaces separated or buffered by an art gallery along the passage from an inner layer of offices. Dark wood panelled passages with highlighted displays of paintings and sculptures of young artists supported by the corporate lend an exquisite aura to the corporate ‘street’, while helping to balance the scale difference between the parent space and the individual work areas.
Having covered the courtyard with glass to convert it into an air conditioned atrium; the focus was on making this central volume the hub of activity from the onset. While most work spaces overlook this atrium through their glazed walls, a series of landscaped terraces and event spaces are also placed at different levels across this atrium, creating inter level connections. Here, too, the dark wood panelled bands alternating with the glazing surrounding the atrium at the upper levels highlights the neatly landscaped second floor terrace, framing it like a painting to weave an overall theme that ties up the design in all its facets.
Heat gain on the western face of the building has been addressed by means of cavity walls and Balinese gardens on the terraces on that face. This landscape style matches the restrained, exotic and exquisite aura maintained in the rest of the design. The landscaping at all levels and in all spaces is consciously symmetrical in disposition thereby enhancing the magnificence of the building’s scale and also making a power statement.
An external wall that takes off from the ground floor at an angle of 45 degrees creates spaces which are difficult to utilise. The challenge has been dealt with artistic finesse, creating a huge seating lounge with a large sculptural pond with floating flowers for a centre piece, placed at an unexpected angle that seems to reflect the angular wall which is fully glazed. The huge adjoining wall is finished with panels depicting sand patterns from a Zen garden, thus continuing with the theme of exotic landscaping into the vertical plane.
An intimate seating area is marked by a wooden deck mounted with bright red cushioned sofas and a reflective wooden false ceiling close to the angular glazing. But the real master stroke that ties up the scheme appears to be a long row of low backed sofas that line the sand patterned wall, matching it in their neutral colour. Horizontally linear and low rise, this row of couches at once creates the intimacy and warmth required of a lounge seat while enhancing the height and vastness of the wall and the volume.
In fact, it is this skilful handling of scales within scales that is the winning scheme throughout this interior. You have relatively large volumes for individual functional spaces created within an enormous volume, and filled in by a restrained yet plentiful amount of contemporary, intimate, comfortable, low rise furniture. But for vases and light fixtures, each of which is by itself artistic, no other art displays find their way on these walls of functional, event or work spaces. Art by itself is displayed only in the art gallery, where it is shown off in all its splendour, without diluting its artistry with that of the furniture or décor. In all other areas you have only seemingly endless surfaces of wood panelling, stone cladding, wood panelling or any other as the case may be, is set off by the bright or pastel hues, steel or leather of furniture placed on the floors. The result is scales that contrast and also balance simultaneously.
Clean, uncluttered and brilliantly dealt spaces, a restrained but sophisticated use of the colour and material palate and an all too evident artistic flourish with which it is all tied up together make this office interior very special, indeed. Completed in 2007, the interior design for Jindal Pipes Ltd. by Morphogenesis won the Best Commercial Interiors Project, CNBC AWAAZ and CRISIL ‘Real Estate Awards 2008’ in 2008.