Deconstructing Existing Notions

Deconstructing Existing Notions

Project: InLiving office, Noida

Architects: Vistasp & Associates, New Delhi

Located within a bustling office complex in Noida, the project is everything a normal office is not. It is not an ‘in your face’ modern, contemporary and swanky office, as one would imagine it should be, as it houses the owner of the IHDP (International Home Deco Park). Rather, it is an antithesis to the expected office style look and feel. The tone was set to create an office that had a different approach to design and sustainable interiors. The client, being a global traveller, set the agenda of an office that would be based on ‘reincarnation’, that is, one which would allow for the adaptive reuse of discarded materials and products, to the extent possible. In other words, here was an office where the client was willing to look at deconstructing existing notions of how an office should be made and with what materials it should be made.

Earthy tone colour palette has a pretty simple concept. Think of it as a spectrum of colours inspired by Mother Nature herself, since the designers believe that the love and passion for nature should be alive always.

The USP of this project raise from the brief wherein one adopts the essence of green buildings: reduce, reuse and recycle. The unique aspect of the project is the search for ‘alternate materials’ and the emphasis on ‘sustainability’ rather than ‘superficiality’.

There are some unique aspects of this project. The entrance of the office is more like a gallery with a coffee shop rather than a conventional reception. The feature wall is an assembly of random sized chipboard planks on a brick wall that immediately sets the tone for the office by questioning conventional wisdom. The coffee counter on a closer look has a glass top counter with wood shavings underneath, giving the wasted material its place in the arclights, so to speak. The backdrop of this is a large wall graphic straight out of the forests with a ‘child-like’ rendition.

The bar stools in front of this are made from simple timber with scooter tyre seats and cycle spoke bases, to give a fresh lease of life to discarded materials. Look up at the ceiling and one finds a large circular chandelier made of discarded soft drink cans, all assembled together to create one of the rarest luminaires made out of scrap.

The rear walls of the space have cement board panelling that sets the tone for an earthy office with no illusions of grandeur. A graphic illustrating the importance of reincarnation through adaptive recycling in the reception, giving the office a ‘heart’ and a ‘message’. As one steps into the conference room, just off the reception, one enters a room that has a glass top conference table held upon a cast iron sanitary pipe assembled framework. The feature wall is an assembly of more than 600 pixels in the form of protruded pipes that allow for hanging and display of products like rugs, swatches, etc. This is the innovation room that allows the designers to let their hair down.

The open office is perhaps the most regulated zone, but a closer look would reveal they are entirely fabricated out of chipboard (bagasse and sugarcane by produced boards). In order to prevent the surface from splintering, these are varnished with melamine to hold up. A wasted material, thus, becomes the cynosure of all eyes as a work surface that inspires creative work.

Look up and the ceiling is exposed concrete. Lights hung off this ceiling to provide illumination to the desks, but the hanging supports that allow vertical display of rugs and carpets is what adds a glam quotient to the office decor. The MD cabin has a back wall with random planks of chipboard (the unifying element of the office) that holds a 12’ long shelf. But the talking point of this room is the ‘Campana Brothers inspired settee’ that is locally fabricated with beach footwear and soles of chappals and other discarded materials.

This colourful ensemble is the toast of the entire office. The washroom within the office is walled with 48 different tiles; all put together from leftover stocks of unused tiles, to create a visual collage. The main idea while designing furniture for the office was to utilise the waste of wood produced while creating big pieces of furniture. Recycled wood has been used extensively throughout the office.

Eco-friendly furniture is created in a manner that has minimum negative impact on environment. This means that where wood is used, it has come from renewable sources and any chemicals used in the process do not pollute or harm the environment. Additionally, minimum resources are used, keeping delivery and mileage to as low a level as is feasible. T5 industrial tube lights are used to save energy, have more efficiency, last for a long period and produces low heat which keeps the environment cool.

Refreshing looks have been given with the stork of paints to the walls and ceilings which is again natural in colour. To add liveliness in the room, leftover recycled rugs are hung instead of paintings. The biggest challenge to execute this interior was finding vendors who were ready to be patient and do unconventional work. When this was not possible with established contracting firms, the client helped out by assigning an in-house team that executed the job by combining labour across different disciplines, on a one-to-one basis. This was an interior where interaction with the crafts person/skilled labour was greater than on regular projects.

Various wastage of different type of industries was reclaimed and was used in creation of the office. Office wooden tables are made of chipboard which is used to make carats. Privacy was given to the meeting room by using leftover yarn as curtain. One of the major walls has a rain forest painting in the reception of the office which gives the feel of being close to nature. No doubt, the office took longer to put together, almost doubling up the time and efforts required, but it was all worth it in the end.

Fact File

Client: InLiving

Design team: Vistasp Bhagwagar (MD & Principal Architect), Ashish Gupta

Built-up area: 7,000 sq ft

Year of completion: 2012