Established in 2003, TechnoArchitecture, a design studio based in Bangalore believes in drawing on rich history of India to create spaces that are contemporary, innovative and enhance the human experience. When Founder & Director of the firm Rajesh Shivaram wanted to expand his existing office, ethnic and technology were the two words that came to his mind. Here is the detailed account of the project by the architect himself.
When company’s office space on the first floor of an existing building was to be extended the structure had to be designed as visually and structurally light. The new extension was to accommodate two private areas and a general discussion area within a space of 400sft. Besides, the design endeavor was to create a workspace that seamlessly blends with the nature.
Since our office is nestled in a 100-year-old building built in 1913, it was an obvious decision to re-create the same old atmosphere without having to break or alter the existing setting. Thus, the rustic & ethnic concept was evolved keeping in mind the ‘old technology’. Simultaneously, the extension was planned to include ‘new technology’ in the form of extensive use of glass and steel. The new extension so designed is not only in sync with the existing entry to the ground floor space but also avoids without disturbing any parts of circulation.
As the name of the firm suggests, “Techno” literally means all about technology related design solutions that comprises both old & new forms of design and building techniques. While, the old technology deals with tried and tested concepts, the new technology deals with the futuristic aspects of design elements.
Existing Space (2500sft) – Old Technology
Use of concrete in an exposed way creates an informal feeling. We have used it widely in the entrance staircase area, which creates an interesting design element. The use of solid wood along the staircase, ceiling and partitions enhances the space warmth and design. The USP of the office interiors is the usage of bamboo, a wonderful natural material. Used in ceiling, bamboo poles varying from 2” to 6” in diameter were interwoven in white thread to create rawness in design. Bamboo boards (12mm thick) made from thin bamboo pieces stuck together at high pressure create a false ceiling above the staircase. Even the lights are designed from bamboo poles (8” diameter), which give excellent light and shadow effect. The bamboo laminated flooring also helps sync all the elements of the design.
Breaking the monotony of the design is the clay floors for rustic charm and walls rendered with part mud and part lime plaster to go with the flow of the building. Railway sleeper wood is used in the reception area for tabletop as it is one of the toughest materials available today. To counter its roughness, glass is used to cover the top that ends up highlighting the wood properties.
Extension space (400sft) – New Technology
The entire load bearing structure of extended space in MS steel is a system of portals of varying heights supported by four twin columns. Each twin column is composed of two L – sections separated by a required gap. This makes each column appear lighter than if it had been designed as a single section. The flanges/webs alternated for structural reasons and the slender four columns on the facade with MS steel supports are inspired from the palm trees.
The shell of the space is not merely an aesthetic element, but is essentially a structural component. Steel rods placed staggered, line the periphery of the extended cantilevered space and a layer of glass comes behind the rods. The entire configuration makes the view through it more dynamic and interesting. This is because, instead of a wall or a column, it’s a line of steel rods connected to form a rigid element, which supports the roof with the vertical rods staggered to achieve lateral stiffness. The horizontal members needled in between at intervals control slenderness and increase compression capacity.
The steel rods (new technology) placed vertically produce the same effect as the bamboo poles, which are used in the interiors (old technology). The internal split-levels are finished with concrete to blend in the concept with the interiors and the entire flooring is wood finish PVC as it is lightweight and helps in faster execution.
The roof designed as a 4mm thick cold rolled steel (CRS) sheet is fixed to the existing structure on one end and supported by steel rods on the other end, that run along the periphery of the entire cantilevered mass. From the inside, office space seems to extend out into the exterior with the play of reflection and refraction on the glass – bringing a sense of space, light and order.