Vigirom Chem Perfumery: by GNA, Bangalore
An indigenous production house of fragrant essences, Vigirom Chem Pvt. Ltd. is located on a 14 acre farm on the southern outskirts of Bangalore city, the very farm from which it sources its essences and extracts, processes and exports them to major perfume manufacturers all over the world. Though the family has been in the business for over two generations in partnership with other groups, It’s present managing director established Vigirom Chem Pvt Ltd as an individually owned business in 1995, when Gayathri and Namith Architects were called upon to design its office and factory building. The requirement was for a perfume factory, an industrial facility. But, the architects received a brief for the project that demanded much further, in fact one that totally obviated a modern industrial design language and sought, instead, to be an expression of the traditional vernacular idiom.
Vigirom Chem, a well-established and well-connected name in the world of perfume manufacturing, is led by an ambitious director who is a proud connoisseur of Indian architecture, art, music and dance. The building for Vigirom Chem had to be an expression of all these. More than everything, it had to cater to a modern industrial requirement while presenting it in an alternative architectural language, a vernacular one. Both client and designers were of the opinion that not only should the building’s architectural language help it to blend with its contextual surroundings, the design should also be responsive to the local climate.
The high plinth and predominant symmetrical arrangement visible on approach make an impactful statement of power and prestige. The impression of having arrived at an important location cannot be lost on any visitor to the premises.
But, the structure rises above this high plinth to a height of only one floor. This floor, too, has a major portion of its height covered by the massive overhang of its sloping roof. The missing height, though, is more than made up for by the massive horizontal sprawl of the structure. The green and brick red Mangalore tiled slopes of the roof-scape cascade never-endingly across the panorama, such that to get a comprehensive single glance view of the structure one needs to choose a considerably distant viewpoint.
Having thus put together a cosy scale, the architects have proceeded to embellish the structure with pillars, windows, doors, ventilators and other elements, even stone buttresses, sourced from or inspired by the local architectural store house. In sum, the structure appears like a prosperous homestead from the rural landscape of north Karnataka.
The entrance to Vigirom Chem is placed at one end of the north- south axis along which the building is oriented, with the loading and unloading facility for the factory placed at the other end. Upon entering into the reception area one crosses over an internal water body by means of a granite and steel bridge to access the interiors. This water body, serving to cool the air circulating on the premises, flows around an idol of Lord Krishna to create a welcoming focal element.
The aforementioned axis is intersected by a corridor leading to the office areas like the MD’s suite, lab and open air conference deck. The office and factory spaces are connected by a series of linked courtyards which, while making a reference to vernacular building traditions, helps cool down the building by ventilating the heated air out. These courtyards also serve as open air interaction spaces helping reduce the strain of production.
The factory work floor is also humanised by considerably reducing the volume of the space by means of a series of telescopic roofs made of Mangalore tiles supported on steel trusses over a sub layer of stone roofing, which also reduces direct heating of the ceiling.
Call it a mass producing industrial facility that looks like a farmhouse, or a climatically responsive eco-friendly built structure where working becomes a joy, or an ingenious new design idiom that marries the paradoxes of tradition and modernity, industry and environment, the restive and the rested, GNA’s Vigirom Chem building surely inspires and raises the bar in the quest to achieve this balance.