Social Responsibility of the Architectural Profession

Architecture is not only the mother of all arts but encompasses all disciplines. To me it symbolises the design of all built environment and objects within it. We as architects and designers need to step out of our controlled and cosy buildings set in well landscaped land parcels and into the unorganised and lawless public domain which is currently a no man’s land. This sharp contrast between the private and public domain creates a binary that has come to define our cities.

The public domain has become so chaotic and lawless that there is no space for the elderly, children and the differently-abled. We architects need to urgently intervene and partner with the concerned authorities. We need to take up areas in our neighbourhoods and come up with simple effective solutions that are easy to implement. We need to recognise social needs and small services and dovetail them into a design solution.

Office for Clix Capital, Gurugram: The office for Clix Capital in Gurugram breaks all conventions and rules of workspace. I would call this deconstructivism of workspace. It is characterised by an absence of perceived harmony, continuity or symmetry. The finished visual appearance is characterised by unpredictability and controlled chaos.

Keeping in sync with the work philosophy of its founder member Pramod Bhasin, the office is an adaptation of a New York loft style space. Non-structured spaces flow seamlessly into one another. Lack of physical closures and boundaries liberates the body and mind and encourages a free flow of thoughts and relationships.

The entrance space instead of being formal (as one would expect in a finance company), is warm and inviting, and hence is called ‘the living room’. The visitor is greeted with the aroma of coffee and multiple seating formats.

One realises that not all businesses require a formal reception with a receptionist as an added employee. Casual meeting areas named after major financial centres are interspersed throughout the office. These are closable by drawing printed curtains having graphics that define the centres. Exposed brick and concrete wall surfaces are contrasted against quirky and colourful graphics.

Vibrant coloured carpet tiles lend to the bohemian character of the workplace. The open ceiling and exposed services not only reinforce the industrial language but also the enhanced volume that is critical to any space. A non-structured placement of work stations with equally non structured lighting takes away from the rigid structure usually followed in work areas.

The Renew Hub, Gurugram: Renew Power, a clean energy producing company were to move their HQ to an independent leased building. The design language was derived from the elements of nature that are the source of clean energy. The first four floors signify earth, wind, water and sun while the top floor which also houses the corporate functions is the ‘vyom’ that encompasses all the elements. The colour palette and graphics define the element of each floor. A predominant yellow for the ‘sun’ floor, blue for the ‘wind’ floor and green for the ‘earth’ floor along with graphics depicting the renew story, history, energy information, etc, create a unique work environment.

The triple height entrance atrium which is visible from the main Golf Course Road provided a branding opportunity. The sun and a windmill have been made into design elements that boldly convey the brand ‘renew’.

SONALI BHAGWATI is President at DPA, which is based in Gurgaon. She graduated with a degree in architecture from CEPT, Ahmadabad. She was trained with architect Bernard Kohn, as recipient of scholarship from L’Institute Francaise D’Architecture. She started Spazzio Design Architecture in partnership with Sohrab Dalal. She has received several awards and her work has been widely published.

She has been published as one of the 20 best architects of India as well as she has been regularly featured as Hot 100 Contemporary Indian Architect. She was the member of Delhi Conservation Society. She has served two successful terms as a member of Delhi Urban Arts Commission (DUAC), one of the most prestigious organizations in the country. She was also the member of Delhi Urban Heritage Foundation.

She has an in-depth knowledge about the city and has done
a research thesis on Urban Metamorphosis with a case study of Kashmere Gate area over a period of 180 years. She has conducted heritage walks in Kashmere Gate area as a part of the Conservation Society, Delhi. She has served on a committee of experts constituted by ministry of environment to evaluate mining in the Aravali Hills. She has been an active member of a citizens group involved in reforestation of Siri Fort City forest. Under DUAC she has been involved in the restructuring of the building bye- laws for Delhi as well as a proposal for rejuvenation of Shahjahanabad. She is involved in several Suo Motu City projects taken up by DUAC.