The Office Typology, India
by Nitika Agarwal
Some of the recent works by architect Sanjay Puri tend to defy the ‘universal
trend’ of enclosed air-conditioned skyscrapers by drawing our attention to the
different typologies of workspaces derived by the realities of their context. This
article demonstrates two projects by the architect that translate some of his
deeply held values on the relationship between human and nature; traditional
knowledge; and cultural aesthetics that instinctively underline his sense of
design. The two offices, named AKSHAYA 36 in Chennai and Reservoir in
Rajasthan, are designed by responding to the features on-site; giving access to
maximum natural ventilation and daylight; using local materials; and exploring
the nuances of placemaking to extend an environment that has the potential to
stimulate the physical and mental well-being of its inhabitants. The real draw of
these buildings is the community spaces within them that are made accessible
to its users to encourage an interactive, healthy and pleasant environment at the
workplace. The projects represent two distinct office typologies by addressing
similar concerns of site, climate, environment and function, and hence reveal the
possibility of approaching architecture in different ways.
AKSHAYA 36 is a multi-storey office complex in Chennai that resides on a small
plot of approximately 4,150 square metres. The design of the complex anchors on
some primary architectural resolutions that have a lasting impact on the building’s
life cycle in terms of the quality of natural light; ventilation; thermal comfort;
indoor-outdoor connection; access to views; and response to the environment.
The first design decision was to establish a deeper connection with the outdoors
and ensure an open, flexible and stimulating working environment for greater
productivity as well as a sense of well-being of the employees.
Reservoir serves as an office complex for the employees of Shree Cement,
an Indian cement manufacturer from Rajasthan. The building is sited on a
36,500-square-metre plot that forms part of a larger 100-acre site owned by the
same client. The site, context and programme have resulted in a design that is
relevant and rooted in the principles of traditional wisdom. Site topography and
the existing condition of land with a water catchment pit in the centre steered the
underlying intent of this project to arrive at a solution that is basically sustaining.
The projects AKSHAYA 36 and Reservoir, designed in different geographical
locations, are evidently governed by certain common parameters of climate, site,
context and culture. Radically different in form and appearance, the projects
together reveal spaces that carry the potential to invigorate and influence the
physical and mental behaviour of their inhabitants.