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A modern day institution created by Ahmedabad based architect Pankaj Gandhi,reflects his client sensitive design approach. In exploration of conceptual and practical ideas,he believes in embracing the ambitions of the users, the specific context and use of natural light, air and material applications.

Standing tall on the Ahmedabad – Vadodara highway in the heart of Vatva industrial zone is the newly conjured institute, Centre of Excellence (COE) for clients Novel, IL &FS. Surrounded by conventional industrial structures, the building stands out with its unique architectural vocabulary. While, undertaking the project,Architect Pankaj Gandhi, Director – Principal Architect ofVH Designs Studio, attempt was to design communicative spaces wherein each space has a dialogue with manyother spaces.

The Design Intent

The building was conceived as the rendezvous for industrial fraternity for conducting conferences, exhibitions and high-end corporate meetings and events. In response,openness, monumentality and interconnection of spacesbecame the primary design elements. Spread across 10,000 sqm site, the built- up area of 3500 sqm comprises.two storey building consisting of reception, waiting lounge, exhibition hall, training centre, main chamber,staff cabins, food court, kitchen and utilities on ground floor along with auditorium, library, meeting room, office chambers and guest rooms on the first floor.

The cafeteria with attached kitchen and ATM center are accessible individually. The adjacent welcoming entrance leads to the double height foyer flanked between the auditorium and training centre. The chic reception is designed from a curvaceous wall monolithic with the exposed R.C.C. structure. The ground floor auditorium with capacity of 550 seats acts as a multi-functional hall used for gathering, conference and exhibitions. The interior of this column-free auditorium, with its 90 feet span, is well designed to address acoustical issues with a ceiling grid which maintains the NRC value as one.Segregated cabins with elegant and voguish interiors are provided for Novel and Vatva GIDC office bearers.

The transitional spaces, acting as spines between the functional spaces, provide short and hassle-free movements while forming pockets of spaces for informal get-togethers. The utility spaces like common toilets and staircase occupy one of the corners of the building which makes them easily accessible from all functional spaces as well as avoids any chaotic movements in the corridors while maintaining privacy.

While the public domain functions area ccommodated on the ground floor, the first floor houses activities which demand peace and chaos-free spaces. The cozy library, offering stunning views of the outside landscape, provides the perfect opportunity to immerse into the world of books and knowledge. The first floor auditorium with the capacity of 280 people has elevated sitting with custom-designed chairs to ensure visual communication with the outdoors through cut-outs that render a unique language to the external façade. The auditorium is rationally designed to target premium corporate board meetings in co-relation to the adjacent meeting room.

The curved wall of this meeting room not only breaks the overall rectilinear layout of the building but also externally provides an auxiliary space which serves as a gallery for informal discussions accompanied with stunning views of beautiful landscape. Internally, the centre table corresponds to the shape of the room, allowing equal visual connectivity for all the members during meetings. The elegant and chic rest rooms, arranged in a line ararray, well serve the visiting guests insubtle luxury.

The Interplay of rudiments

The orientation of the overall building, with its longer façade stretching along the North-East direction, ensures allowance of natural indirect light within the spaces. The core functional spaces like auditorium, library and conference room offer delightful views of the outer landscape without substantial heat gain. In fact, even the toilet attached with each cabin has a skylight opening which allows flow of natural light and ventilation. The basic idea behind a sustainable design is to cut off not only the construction costs and impacts but also to address the energy and resources consumed in the maintenance of the building during its life-cycle. Decreased dependency on artificial lighting and air-conditioning leads to lesser use of non-renewable sources of energy as well as lower maintenance costs.

To address the deposition ofhazardous industrial fly-ash owing tothe surrounding industrial zone, thesouthern façade is constructed fromdetached R.C.C. wall protecting theinteriors from the outside hot air.The façade is facilitated with speciallydesigned narrow punctures which donot allow the fly-ash to pass through.As the dust settles down, only freshair enters into the spaces. The hot airinside the building rises upwards and is vented out from the randomlyplaced openings on the curtainwalls. The recessed windows withhorizontal adjustable louvers arethe perfect solution for the harshhot and dry climate of the city.The mild steel ‘C’ shaped channelgirder acts as the lintel for thealuminum frame windows.The warmly tinted Teak woodfurniture and doors add rusticappeal against the monolithictone of exposed R.C.C.construction. It is like combiningrationalism with aesthetics.

Unlike residences, institutes have faceless userswith varying demands and mindsets. Institutesare for the people. As architects, while designingan institute people activities, movement andneeds are the prime considerations. They are atthe centre of the concept and the entire designrevolves around them.

The liberal composition of the façade, generated from free forms and shapes, symbolizes the philosophy of design while, the iconi city of architecture comes from the solidarity of R.C.C.material in combination with curvili near forms defining purity of ideas. R.C.C. represents themodernity and discipline, the freeforms reflect the informality andopenness through the alluringfaçade.

The volumetric dramaachieved through doubleheight spaces is accentuatedwith the play of natural lightforming patterns through thevarying punctures. No overdoand no cosmetics is the key tosophistication in this corporatemodern day institute. The buildingis conceived as a living organwhich keeps the ideology ofdesign as the pivotal mechanism.The oneness of the structure with prime philosophy as ‘see through and feel through’ allows the end users to get involved with the spaces and generate a dialogue between architecture and people.

Text: Kruti Choksi Kothari
Photos: Suraj Vyas

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