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White makes a comeback as spaces look for not just neutrality, but a strong balanced presence to offset activity and accents.
Principal Architect & Co-Founder, The Madras Office for Architects & Designers
The Madras Office for Architects and Designers (MOAD), co-founded by Mahesh Radhakrishnan in 2004, is a multidisciplinary team of young architects and designers with combined expertise in providing a range of spatial services from urban design, architecture, interior, and products. Formally established in Chennai, MOAD has completed projects across India.
About The Project
Tara Books asked us to create a space that would be suited for a range of activities, from creating the books themselves, to interactions with traveling artists, visitors’ galleries, and book stores. They required a design that was contemporary, yet warm and inclusive.
Tara Books are known for their exquisite handmade books. But we identified them for the process that makes these books possible —the strong underlying narrative that was an outcome of rigorous interaction between artists, writers, and designers without any hierarchy. They collaborate, extend the dialogue beyond art and allow for senses (rather than reason) to revel. We wanted to create an architectural equivalent of this narrative in their spaces.
Book Building was conceived as a platform for collaboration and dialogue. We hoped that the flow of spaces within the building would lend itself to opportunities for this to occur. Since they are publishers of visual material we wanted to create a canvas for their visiting artists that will evolve over time.
The building is a space that balances many programs that range from public to private, commercial to cultural, and activities that go on all day and night. It is also a place for collaboration and dialogue, hence it was natural to provide a space that was flexible and vital at all times.
Two contrasting ideas were thrown in together to understand the times we live in, and the building is a result of this. The most apparent is the contextual specificity of patterned grills or jaalis used for security. The second is to create a space that is open and that reflects the nature of the space as a temporary home for the artists who often travel to the city. This was accomplished with painted and illustrated walls, cosy rooms and a red earth courtyard perched on top, close to nature, and away from the urban chaos at ground level. The jaalis invoke the idea of a city, while the courtyard with its red earth reminds you of a village in its openness and proximity to nature.
Material and Colour
Hand crafted steel grills are security embellishments common in every home of our cities. The patterns you see everywhere are representative of the creative instincts carried over for generations by the local labourers who make them, and differ from place to place and decade to decade. In this project for Tara Books, these grills are used as a reinforcement to connect to the place. We documented grills and jaalis that were popular in the last few decades in the city, composed and juxtaposed them, made pivoted frames and screens for openings that act both as protection and boundaries, that defined spaces and broke them through their shadows. For us this collage almost represents an imagery of the city through the building.
As an overall scheme, white walls are used as an evolving canvas. Many artists working with Tara Books have adorned these walls with their art forms. Textures, such as the cement finished ferro-cement stairs, or the naturally polished steel stairs, are used to transition across spaces.
Apart from this, grills painted white, red earth walls, yellow epoxy for pantry space and signal red for a toilet corridor serve as accents to the functions of the place.
Principal Architects, We Design Studio
Saahil Parikh graduated from the AA School of Architecture, London with an M. Arch in Architecture & Urbanism and has worked with Zaha Hadid Architects in London. Nupur Shah graduated from the Academy of Architecture, Mumbai in 2002. Since then, she has worked with Studio Mumbai and Serie Architects in Mumbai, and Zaha Hadid Architects in London.
About The Project
The clients wanted a space that felt contemporary and state-of-the-art, reflecting their youth and progressive lifestyle. We visualised the apartment as a cocoon of sorts; where planes merge with one another, creating a space that would encourage free-thinking dialogue and interaction, as well as moments of solitude and calm contemplation. Apart from the brief from the clients, the space itself served as an inspiration. The apartment is located in a high-rise near the sea, and we opted to use the vast expanse of blue from both the sky and the sea as a backdrop. Keeping the floor, walls, and ceiling white, allows the space to complement and reflect the blue around it.
The result is a space that complements its environs perfectly, with everything from the colour palette, to the built furniture (also entirely in white) helping to strike a perfect balance with the colours of the sea and the sky, creating a sense of serenity and equilibrium for anyone in the space.
Material and Colour
The floor is finished in a milky white Vietnamese marble, white lustre paint for the walls and ceiling, and white PU has been used as the finish on the wardrobes and built storage.
Nupur Shah & Saahil Parikh
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