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How to bend it like Beckham in work space design

DNBAN37392 | 2/5/2011 | Author : Utkal Mohanty | WC :757 | Business & Economy

Not many architects can break the bounds of conventional design and yet achieve functionality in a building. Some have managed to do that – DNA Property showcases two buildings in the city where creativity and practicality have been mingled to create right ambience at work place
DNA Property

A construction and architectural company  that goes by the name of  ‘Total Environment’ and names its residential projects as “ Van Gogh’s Garden’, “ Windmills of Your Mind’, “ The Magic Faraway Tree” and “ The Meadow Dance”  has to be different in  its approach to the environment, I reckoned.  Founded by the Kamal Sagar and Shibanee Sagar, alumni of IIT, Kharagpur and JJ School of Arts, Mumbai  respectively, Total Environment  believes in ‘ an out-of-the-box approach to make living more comfortable, productive and joyous.”. The company’s website mentions, “A first-of-its kind innovation in residential real estate projects worldwide, in 1997 we introduced the concept of cantilevered terrace gardens with every apartment. Since then this has become an integral part of all our projects. Our gardens have grown larger and now include features like water bodies and wood decks - bringing the outdoors in and taking the indoors out. Our projects are also noted for their creeper-covered pergolas and landscaping.”
But what happens to this philosophy while designing commercial and institutional properties? How does the design team at TE marry the demands of commercial work space and contemporary design trends with its own design diktats? Quite well, would be the answer, judging from two  different properties built by the team in two different ends of Bangalore.

Webb  India, Bommasandra
The corporate campus for Webb India limited located at Bommasandra Industrial Estate, off Hosur road, Bangalore was built on a 2-acre site along the NS direction. According to one of the architects at TE, “While getting to design this workspace a conscious approach was done to avoid a straightjacket approach. We believe that to have glass all around in offices and steel all over in workshops is a feature, not a rule.”  The office building is designed around a courtyard and there has been a strong emphasis on horizontality thus enhancing a feeling of stability to the building. This was worked by having mass in its walls. In and around the WEBB shop floor, this has been achieved by having concrete, stone masonry, earth berms and greenery used as a material to replace drab steel frame ‘industrial’ structures.
The landscaped courtyard is marked by a series of glass fins, each crafted with computerized numeric controlled mechanism. The use of glass has been done to minimize clutter and help allow light to diffuse and enter the building. Glass bricks have been incorporated in the exterior walls of the office using a steel frame within the wire-cut masonry for provision of diffused light over the workspace. Natural lighting and ventilation have been given special consideration. All construction has been done using materials from the earth. Wire cut bricks with soldier bonds and hand dressed granite slices create an interesting texture on the southern facade of the office building. Wooden louvers in specially treated rubber wood allow plenty of light while keeping away the heat.
The project won the Institutional Architecture Award from Architecture + Design Spectrum Foundation in 2002

IonIdea, Whitefield
IonIdea (formerly IBC) was one of first buildings commissioned in KIADB Industrial Park to encourage development of this area in Whitefield. The brief for design was to create a campus which encouraged interaction and team work.
The design for the building has been  conceived around an open courtyard surrounded by corridors that provided unlimited opportunity for exchange of ideas and team building. The main building has a large entrance canopy leading into the reception.  The roof of the canopy is a garden, a natural extension of the courtyard space in level 1 of the building – creating another informal space for interaction on the campus.
The conference room has been treated as a feature element at the entrance. It is suspended on concrete shear walls, its exterior provided with vertical louvers. The rear of the reception has a pergola cover with a terracotta mural. The light coming through this pergola filters into the reception.  The integration of this building with nature is further enhanced with the use of natural materials like granite, exposed brick masonry and concrete.
The courtyard provides natural ventilation and reduces dependency on air conditioning for cooling.
Landscape elements are the most essential element in the campus design. The creation of a dense landscape provides respite from the noise and dust.  So there are different ways to  work space design , even  while using glass and concrete.  Of course the use of local material can add so  much to design aesthetics besides being environment-friendly and energy efficient. One only can wish more architects and builders begin to think ‘out-of-the-box’.

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