Note on Portico Design Concepts office
This is the story of the architects’ own office.
When Aurangabad-based architects Gopal Tanwani and Shruti Tanwani realised that they had to shift from their existing work premises to a larger one owing to acute paucity of space felt by the growing interior design + architectural firm, they were clear that their new office would be owned and that it would be a standalone building.
Their ideal plot was a centrally located one, with a footprint of at least 3,000 square feet. And their vision was for a workspace surrounded by a substantial greenscape. However, owing to the lack of the right candidate, they zeroed in on the present piece of real estate — which, though of modest dimensions and narrow, enjoyed locational advantage and a corner position.
Given the compactness of the site and the resulting compactness of the structure that would stand upon it, the architects had to reset their vision of a green-encircled space, to an entity that would weave verdure into its very own fabric.
And with the option for horizontal expansion being non-existent, their thoughts turned to vertical exploration, a multi-level programme that would fulfil the requirements of a burgeoning practice.
The envelope was designed as a simple trapezoidal one, echoing the shape of the plot, with a north entry and windows on the east shaded by geometric MS lattices whose design is seeded in a textile pattern they’d liked.
The south and the west of the corner plot abutted its neighbour, and therefore the walls along these directions had to be ‘dead’ — which proved to be a blessing as openings here would only serve to increase the internal heat load. Besides windows, sunlight, another element that the architects were keen on, was integrated into the scheme by creating slit-like punctures on the walls and a linear skylight that drew attention to and exaggerated the linearity of the structure.
The spatial programme started with sections and designating levels to different uses, which were eventually dovetailed into a plan. The internal treatment eschewed heavy visual partitioning and relied, instead, on specified purpose to define different areas. Thus, the visitor first enters an enclosed 12-foot-high reception block and its short attendant passage, before being ‘released’ into an 18-foot atrium filled with greenery and sciagraphy created by the sunlight filtering through the MS screens of the windows.
This idea of constriction and liberation is another attempt at exploiting the vertical axis to the maximum. From the atrium, steps go down to a ‘rest room’ (created for the architect duo’s young daughter, who often drops into their office after school) and up to a landing leading to the principals’ area (with its secondary waiting area and their cabin).
From here, another series of steps takes you, across a bridge-like walkway, to the discussion area — which, in turn, leads up to the studio. The staggered articulation of spaces almost doubles the usable area of the approximately 900-square-foot footprint and creates sightlines that allow the principals to be visually connected to the complete office from their cabin.
Both materially and chromatically, the office leans towards the earthy side of the scale. The complete building from outside and inside is in single tone of grey, tempered with few outlines of black — to enhance the beauty of the plants, which, along with the sunlight, are as much a part of the material palette as mild steel (window lattices, railings, customised planters), tiles (flooring) and natural wood.
The monolithic visual envelope of the texture-painted walls and matching tiles is relieved by delicate patterns borrowed from the MS window screens, stencilled on the walls and sandblasted on the floor. Natural light from three skylights and huge window openings lights the office during the day, while artificial lighting consists of a continuous profile light to enhance the length of overall structure.
Project: portico design concepts
Location: Aurangabad, India
Built-up footprint: 900 sq ft
Carpet area: 1,650 st ft
Seating capacity: 8 staff
Architecture and interior design firm: Portico Design Concepts
Principals: Ar Gopal Tanwani and Ar Shruti Tanwani
Design team: Ar Snehal Mangate
Structure: Anil Datar
Plumbing: Narsing Bharti
Electrical: Govind Chitgirikar
Painting: Vicky Sonkar
Flooring: Suwalal Yadav
Furniture manufacturer: Subhash Chourasiya
Photographs: ©Photographix | Sebastian + Ira
External finishing material: Exterior-grade textured paint, with patterns made using vinyl cut-outs
Flooring: Tiles, with patterns made with sandblasting
Internal wall finish: Textured paint, with patterns made using vinyl cut-outs
Staircase railing: Weathered MS
Treads: MS plate (rusted) and black china mosaic