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At first glance, this space looks like a lounge or a cafe. When you look closely, you realise that it’s actually an office space. Based in Pune, India, Mind Manifestation Design has converted a 120 sqm residential apartment located on a hillside into their studio. Clad in perforated bricks, the studio is a unique space, which is reflective of Pune’s tropical climate and the greenery of the neighbouring hillside. Mind Manifestation is an interior design and architecture firm that works on projects with a focus on merging vernacular construction techniques with contemporary design aesthetics. Their studio, aptly known as the Studio by the Hill, is a celebration of the beautiful hillside it is situated on. Moreover, it has been conceptualised to be compatible with Pune's hot summers. Perforated brick panels and curvilinear components help in bringing abundant natural light and keeping the office cool, while also adding to the office’s uniqueness.
"The Studio by the Hill has been meticulously created to make way for the neighbouring hill's natural beauty. The colours and material palette was delicately chosen to complement it. This way, nature pours within and merges with the interiors. Also, most of the rooms face east, ensuring that all areas are properly lit with natural light, and preventing excessive glare and heat during the working hours. Hence, the design creates an open, fluid space with earthy hues and eco-friendly materials that complement the changing seasons of the surrounding terrain,” mentions Chetan Lahoti, Principal Partner of Mind Manifestation Design.
The Studio by the Hill has minimal glass partitions designating its many functions. The office's fluidity is further enhanced by the addition of modest curved components to the corners. A spine runs through the entire space, dividing it into two parts. One has a waiting lobby, open workstations, a pantry, and washrooms, while the other has a conference room, a few recreational spaces, and a cabin. Both eventually lead to a multipurpose space designed in such a way that it can be transformed into any room, formal or informal, depending on the user's needs.
At Studio by the Hill, guests are welcomed by a striking reception and waiting area, which sets the tone for the rest of the office. The reception desk and the floor are lined with perforated bricks. The waiting area features a one-of-a-kind bench, which is made of recycled cardboard tubes and curves around one corner of the space. Behind the reception, is a tiny terrace that is also covered with perforated bricks, creating a harmonious look that seamlessly connects with the outdoors. “With the waiting area, our main aim was to play with the material palette, while also challenging the idea of what a formal waiting area in an office should look like. The curved partition makes the space more friendly while also distinguishing it from the open workstations. The barrier is constructed of cardboard tubes, while the seating is made of ashwood and the coffee table is made of metal that has been textured and painted for aesthetic purposes,” remarks Lahoti.
After walking past the arresting reception area, visitors are greeted by lime plaster walls and terracotta-hued concrete flooring, and work stations featuring oakwood desks and cane-backed office chairs. There’s also a window nook, which provides views of the adjoining hillside. To one side of the office is a minimal conference room housing a wooden conference table, which has the same cardboard tubes as the waiting area as its base. Near the window, there is a concrete ledge where employees can sit and look outside. "When it comes to our signature style, certain elements have been designed to reflect it, such as the pillar in the open workspace, which has a distinctive Maharashtrian Vada feature, and the shelf in the conference room, which is again inspired by Vada architecture. They demonstrate our style of designing vernacular elements in combination with modern spaces," adds Lahoti.
More work areas can be found towards the end of the office, along with a terrace where employees can assemble for meetings or to socialise. The highlights of this space are the movable perforated brick screens and the tiered seating at the back of the room. The terrace is both a library and a multipurpose facility, as the slidable window panels transform the room into a fascinating area where users may interact with the outside world. The brick facade enhances all of these characteristics by converting the harsh sunbeams into a soothing breeze before they enter the office.
The use of lime puttied walls in conjunction with a southern natural brick screen helps to cool the office during hot summer months. "The Studio by the Hill features ash wood furniture, in-situ concrete flooring, natural brick paving with towering seamless walls, and ceilings in pastel green lime plaster finish. Furthermore, the usage of recycled cardboard tubes is explored. This way, the material palette is tastefully chosen to match the different shades of the hill throughout the year. The pastel lime green finish is the consequence of a desired tranquil working environment. It also harmonises with the colour palette of the surrounding landscape,” adds Lahoti.
Furthermore, the Studio by the Hill by Mind Manifestation is also a great example of environmentally sustainable design. "The use of recycled cardboard tubes is explored in various interventions such as sliding, operable shutters, seating backrests, or open shelves supported with customised detailing. Additionally, we sought to construct openings on the southern side of the office as a sustainable approach. It provides adequate natural light to the office, thus reducing the consumption of artificial lighting,” concludes Lahoti.
Name: Studio by the Hill
Location: Pune, India
Architect: Mind Manifestation Design
Lead Architects: Anand Deshmukh and Chetan Lahoti
Completion Year: 2022
Client: Mind Manifestation Design (own office studio)
Program: Design Studio Office
Built Area: 120 sq.m.
Design Team: Pranjali Ekre, Dipti Kanade, Vidisha Paltewar
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