- Architect In Charge: Urvi Shah
- Design Team: Kunjal Shah, Kinjal Shah
- Clients: Dipak Shah, Amisha Masala
- Site Engineer: Nimesh Panchal
- City: Vadodara
- Country: India
Site and Client Brief
Set in a densely woven grocery market in the main city area of Vadodara, the site is a very tight plot of 450 sqft enveloped by shops sharing terraces on 3 sides leaving only the road side open for light, ventilation and accessibility. The client, engaged in wholesale business of spices has been fitting his office essentials in a typical market store for years, he now wanted a new office which is more like a workplace than a retail outlet. Clear about his needs, he desired the office to be very functional and yet to set a benchmark in the market for its brand.
Reflective of the spice business the client is engaged in, the overall design concept, the idea of arches, the colour yellow and the material palette of grey lime plaster & wooden wicker furniture were derived from Indian culture. Plain rectangular mass with a rather restrained palette of exposed grey lime plaster provide a subdued backdrop to the contemplative yellow arched openings producing a bold minimalistic façade in contrast to the chaotic surroundings. The interior and exterior had to be conceptualized synchronously to allow simplicity and playfulness exist cohesively.
In response to the space crunch, a simple idea of having a double height space with overlooking mezzanine area opened a new dimension adding immense volume to the store. Set on such a tight plot, no space could be wasted for adding new walls and structure. Innovatively, metal arches merged with the necessary metal structural members reformed the design concept adding a new parameter to the design keeping the Indian-ness intact. As the facade’s arches, the yellow Jaisalmer flooring draws inspiration from Haldi. It presents a beautiful carpet to the handcrafted furniture done in wicker and wood. The palette was otherwise kept monochromatic with the walls, ceiling and metal arches finished in grey. The soft curves used from metal arches, staircase to furniture pieces individually present diversity. The predominantly organic design language weaves the vivid elements together.
The lower level accommodates the reception & display area and the director’s cabins. The mezzanine has accounts and marketing desks. An additional more private floor was added to accommodate the conference, pantry and toilet which further open into a walled terrace open only to the sky. Space for a connecting passage was left to link terraces shared by various shops at this level. This space though a part of the building exists independently. The walled terrace was finally added as a breathing nook to an otherwise function-oriented layout.
Material Palette. The entire palette is put together by cautiously selecting local materials adhering completely to the sustainability principle of 'the lesser the material travels, the greater it benefits the nature.' Lime plaster, sandstone flooring, wooden furniture has all been tested by time and a design created with them encompasses timeless architecture. Structure. Whether it be problem of space if new walls and RCC columns were to be added or the limited time extended by the client, metal structure presented a single solution to many constraints of this project. Alas adding curves and arches to the structural members blends them with the overall concept by pre-pending Indian-ness in a modern way.
The Staircase. The metal staircase connecting all the levels is a design piece in itself. The cantilevered steps keep one’s view unhindered hence not cutting the volume of the space where as the bright yellow colour added to the railing draws one’s attention to it. The organic nature of the cantilevered steps, the connector and the railing are homogeneous to the design concept. Furniture. The timeless palette of wooden furniture was chosen for this project. A decision to add wicker for a little Indian character was taken. Together they present a palette complimentary to the design concept. Each piece of furniture with its plain geometry and smooth soft curve is designed in house and handcrafted on site.
Play of Light . The play of natural light as it unfolds differently at different levels adds a little drama to the project. Lower level draws light from the front north opening, mezzanine from the skylight and the upper level from the walled terrace. Tracks of adjustable artificial lights are neatly added on the exposed ceiling. The blend of ambient natural light with required artificial light sets the perfect environment for the store.