via The Hindu: Emerging office spaces show off designs and interiors reflecting anything but a stiff, puritanical approach. By Nandhini Sundar
It is customary to visualise an office coming in rows of cubicles, desks, grey shades and strict formal tones that evoke a sombre ambience. Bright colours and unconventional design features are almost non-existent in such a space, the design focusing purely on creating a space that is stiff, under the mistaken approach that productivity is highest when the ambience is most formal.
Yet, a look at the emerging, new office spaces shatters this myth, the designs and interiors reflecting anything but a stiff puritanical approach. Not only colours prevail conspicuously, the manner of design as well as the theme opted are far from conventional, offering spaces that are cheerful, energetic and uncommon.
Says Architect Gunjan Das of NG Associates, “The design approach to office spaces has witnessed a sea change with many offices choosing an informal ambience where the accent is on greenery and cheer, with plenty of natural light and ventilation that affords a spill of the outdoors into the interiors.”
Gunjan’s office reflects plenty of these, the spaces within opened up to have a visual connect with the outdoors while abundant greenery prevails in every section of the interiors, infusing a strong presence of the outdoors.
A stunning 20-ft. wall mural depicting the lush green tropical forest greets the visitor in the lobby courtyard, setting the tone for the rest of the interiors. While there is no dearth of natural light and ventilation, bright colours are prominent in their presence, exuding a warm homely aura that is a far cry from a stiff grey office decor.
The materials used too are totally natural and sustainable, keeping the environment sensitivities firmly in place. Recycled teak serves as the wood floor in the twin cabins while raw cement and brick floors cover the common and outdoor spaces. “We chose plantation rubber wood for cabinets and cement finish for walls to exclude the need for painting”, says Gunjan, stressing on the environment quotient.
Architect Anshul Chodha of Sanctuary Architects brings forth similar design sensitivities into the ambience of his office. Built on the terrace of an existing structure and surrounded by a large canopy of Gulmohar and coconut trees, the office building comes with a double height studio incorporating a mezzanine floor. The presence of a double height ceiling enables the existing trees to become part of the interiors, spilling inside to totally transform the character of the office space.
A multi-functional open-to-sky linear courtyard that serves as the meeting area as well as doubles up as a luncheon room, compounds this feeling of being outdoors while working in the office. “The evenings find this space once again populated, not to work but to unwind and indulge in informal discussions that prove many a time to be officially very productive”, says Chodha, commenting on the design.
As unconventional as the interior design elements, the structure too is equally different from a regular office space, the walls being exposed to permit experience of the materials in their raw form.
The construction is light weight, easy to dismantle, with Aerocon panels bolted into the metal framed structure. The first layer of the roof is formed by the Aerocon blocks where they form an arch with no intermediate structural supports, while knotted pine, sheet metal, and grey cement floors complement the white work surfaces in this unconventional design approach.
Free flowing space
It is not merely architects’ offices that are designed unconventionally. The Un-Office, designed by Praxis Inc. for a software company, reflects similar unconventional approach and design inclinations. The 4m high, 3000 sq. ft office is conceptualised as a free flowing interactive space sans the ubiquitous cubicles and cabins. Even the three individual cabins that have been incorporated feature moveable partitions so as to be slid aside when not in use, revealing an open expanse of interactive space in the entire office.
Designed to be totally collaborative with a strong accent on evoking the warmth of a home, the informal ambience brings in a twin living room concept that overlooks a space that is fashioned as a bar. “The idea was to provoke free thinking and exchange of ideas in an informal workspace”, says Architect Gopa Menon of Praxis Inc.
Handmade painted mosaic tiles segment the twin ‘living areas’ while a green wall, doubling up as an oxygen replenishing unit with the plant varieties of areca palm, money plant and mother-in-law’s tongue, serves as a demarcating element from the open work spaces. The three cubicles which are the lone private work and discussion centres, along with their moveable shutters, also fit in a closed phone booth to facilitate undisturbed interaction when required.
The office space is further lent an industrial feel by leaving the utilities exposed, where the white painted ducts and other utilities, besides reflecting light in the interiors, serve as a unique design element. The gain in volume achieved by leaving the utilities exposed, further add to the large expanse and open, collaborative design intent of the office space.