by Jerry ElengicalAug 04, 2022
A site with a strong agrarian character on the fringes of Surat in Gujarat, India, sets the scene for a collection of workshops, studios, and retail facilities for a mother-daughter duo - Nika and Priyanka Shah - with the former engaged in the vocation of traditional apparel design under the brand 'Lineage' and the latter working as a product and furniture designer. Located at one end of the family's estate, with a farm on one of its edges and a cow shed along the other, the complex - designed by local practice Studio ii - is named the Shed 2.0. Described by the architects as a structure with a contemporary program that has been articulated using a predominantly traditional vocabulary, the project draws on archetypes in local vernacular architecture to shape a workspace that is both at home in its cultural context and the surrounding natural environment.
Studio ii relays in a statement, "Through the course of construction, the project kept evolving in accordance with client’s wish and vision – increasingly becoming more specific. The conceptual framework allowed the project to mutate along the way, becoming an improvised form of architecture." Featuring a layout that channels elements and typologies in Gujarati residential architecture - such as faliyu and osri-style homes among other housing models - the Shed 2.0 is a series of single-storey forms expressed in pigmented concrete with a Jaisalmer yellow hue. The resulting materiality of the structure is subdued and naturalistic, departing from the cold grey of concrete towards a finish that is far more in tune with its urban farmland location. In fact, an entire assortment of forecourts, courtyards, and mezzanine levels have been used as buffers between spaces, leaning further into this theme, with local flora infusing life into these intermediary pockets.
The project's façade design is lined by verandahs and colonnades, with a continuous roof canopy shading these stretches. Besides screening program areas deeper within the plan, they also serve as points of congregation and informal work areas for artisans to hone their craft outside the confines of the studio. Reminiscent of a rustic local homestead, the details and fenestrations along the building’s exterior exemplify this aesthetic, with conduits in the roof allowing trees to rise through them toward the heavens. Moreover, creepers, strung from the roof overhang infuse bursts of green to the earthy textures along the building’s edifices, adding a biophilic touch to the design. Archways, circular windows, yellow teak doors, and a range of wooden furniture and products from the client’s own studio add to the simple yet bespoke charm of the structure's exterior, which also features a spiral staircase in exposed concrete whose fluid form swerves up towards a glazed enclosure on the terrace above.
Beyond the stone-paved forecourt, the array of functional areas within the L-shaped layout commences with a workshop, apparel making space, and an artist's room - all screened by the continuous verandah along both wings of the structure. The perpendicular arm of the structure hosts the studio's mezzanine level, as well as a shop, which have been separated from one another by means of a landscaped court. As mentioned by the design team, "These peripheral extensions into the landscape make the spaces more humane and impart a sense of time that is slow and profuse. They also provide abundant possibilities for social and programmatic improvisation and infuse haptic richness to everyday tasks."
Wood furniture and terrazzo flooring define much of the interior design throughout the design studios and workspaces, remaining true to the underlying aesthetic of the project. This is especially evident in the work area for the furniture design studio, which also contains a marble staircase ending in adjustable wooden steps that can be shifted to free up space within the zone. The space above this is a library with a pitched roof lined with clerestory windows, whose exterior face is dressed in marble. Most of the furnishings throughout the complex were designed by the client, in a comprehensive showcase of her practice’s work.
Shelves, wardrobes, and other display areas placed both internally and along the colonnaded walkways showcase the clients' other wares, emphasising the importance of heritage and craftsmanship in their respective design practices. Some of the external walls have also been decorated with board games designed and crafted by the practice, providing a change from the otherwise austere feel of the project. Above, the roof accommodates abundant landscaping that connects it to the surrounding countryside.
With the Shed 2.0, Studio ii has devised a fresh take on an emerging trend in office design that eschews cold contemporary workspaces in favour of warmer sanctuaries filled with light and nature. In essence, this connection to its context is what elevates the ambience within the entire collection of spaces, beyond that of conventional sealed and climate controlled studios in urban areas.
Name: Shed 2.0
Location: Surat, Gujarat, India
Site Area: 930 sqm
Built Up Area: 325 sqm
Year of Completion: 2021
Client: Nika Shah, Priyanka Shah
Architect: Studio ii
Design Team: Mitul Desai, Priyank Parmar
Structural Consultant: Darshit Vejani, S & V Engineers
Carpentry: Rameshwar Suthar
Plumbing Consultant: Badrubhai