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Virtual World | December 2011

Timeless contemporary

Bringing class to the contemporary, ABM Architects use woody tones to lend the corporate office of Emco a timeless feel.

When a four-decade old company with an established business decides to go contem­porary, the design demands a modern look that is rooted in timelessness to ensure that it poses the right image. The refurbished corporate office of Emco, a 40-year-old company and one of India's leading power and electrical technology and solutions provider, satisfies this requirement to the tee. The project was undertaken by ABM Architects, who received a very simple brief: to design a corporate office with a contemporary feel, minimum workstations and more interactive spaces. "Since this was their corporate office, it was not too large and the key people would sit here. Besides, this office would be the hub for incubation of new businesses and ideas," says Alfaz Miller, Principal Architect, ABM Architects.

The design plan

Translating the above brief into design, Miller's team headed by Yogesh Kachole, Associate, ABM Architects, equipped the 5,000 sq ft space with three meeting rooms, a lounge and a spa­cious décor with straight lines that give a conti­nuous feel. To enhance interactions, the larger cabins have been provided with small meeting areas furnished with sofas - a great ambience for informal discussions and introductions.

A fan of timeless designs, Miller has used a simplistic design approach with a theme of neutral colours and a complete wood look to ensure that the design of this office never goes out of fashion. Although the budget did not allow the lavish use of veneer, laminates with a woody tone have been used throughout, with veneer being restricted to the executive cabins and meeting rooms. Thick wooden frames work as the signature design element of this office.

Uncluttered lines

For ease of operation, the meeting rooms have been kept close to the entrance, while the modest-sized reception lobby has been given a spacious look through spartan design. A sculptural reception desk made of fibreglass makes an impressive statement, and the seating area is tucked into the corner to ensure a clear view of the reception desk from the glass façade.

The design of the building where this office is located is such that all the offices open out to a central atrium. Thus, the office is blessed with ample natural light that streams in from both sides. To capitalise on this light, Millers' team has used a lot of glass in the interiors, choosing etched glass for privacy. "The concept behind the office was to keep it uncluttered and as open as possible. Thus, apart from the meeting rooms, the space has a semi-open feel flushed with natural light. Even the directors' rooms have a ribbed partition effect with etched glass in the middle for privacy," Miller explains.

Functional lighting

With wood, glass and a bit of steel forming the material palette, and browns, beiges and a hint of pastels dominating the colour scheme, a lot of emphasis has been given to the lighting of the space. The lighting in the general office is a combination of up and down lighters; the closed rooms have flush lighting, some of it being indirect - especially in the directors' room - so as to avoid glare. Emco believes in using power responsibly, in keeping with which minimal light fixtures with maximum efficiency have been used in the form of good quality T5 lamps with reflectors. Decorative lighting has been kept to the minimum.

Contemporary and classy, this office came with its own set of challenges. Time, budget and the permission to work only post office hours. Yet, the designers managed to clinch the job with panache. A pat on their backs!

Total Cost: Rs 1,90,00,000
Total Area: 4,700 sq ft
Text: Sumisha Arora
Photos: Prashant Bhat

Meet the architects: Alfaz Miller & Yogesh Kachole

Firm: ABM Architects was founded in 1982. Alfaz Miller is the co-founder and has been running an independent practice since 1995.
Firm specialisation: Architecture of medium-size projects and interior design.
Design philosophy: To design with a timeless aesthetic with emphasis on details and functionality.
Philosophy towards life: Be happy with your work, and excel in what you do.  
Favourite architect/Designer: Geoffrey Bawa and Demetri Porphyrios.

Contact: ABM Architects, Millernium, 665, Veer Savarkar Marg, Dadar (West), Mumbai-400 028. Tel: 022-2444 4401.
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