The Tropical Zest By Ammeya Gogate & Gouri Deshpande

Who doesn’t want an office which is open, enticing, and functional, which instigates freshness and Natural light; where one feels inspired and motivated. ‘Studio G+A’ a young design firm based in Pune headed by architect Gouri Deshpande and architect Ammeya Gogate, was approached to design an office for a charted accountant based in Ratnagiri – a beautiful city on the west coast of Maharashtra.

Site location :
Snuggled in the heart of the city, the site was a two-bedroom apartment of 800 sqft on the top floor of a four-storied building, which the client wished to convert into an office for eight including himself. The apartment was a corner with north and east sides shared by adjacent apartments leaving only two sides i.e south and west for light and ventilation. Fortunately, the area receives breeze from the remaining two i.e. south and west.

Client Brief :
The client came with a straightforward but challenging brief for his workspace. Out of the two bedrooms he wished to keep one bedroom (which had an attached washroom) for his personal use; leaving only 600 sq. ft area for his office requirements, in which he wanted a cabin for himself, an area for his staff and clients, dedicated workstations for five to six trainees and a small meeting room which can also be used by his staff during lunch breaks, along with lots of filing cabinets and space for printers, scanners and a records cum storeroom.

Challenges :
The challenge was to appease these dichotomous needs of the client in the given 600 sq. ft. of space and in just 14 Lakh rupees budget. The property was previously developed as a residential apartment with conventional Living, Kitchen, dining, bedroom layout, and fixed location for toilets and bathrooms. To accommodate a distinct set of requirements some internal walls and the kitchen counter had to be removed. The design was a conscious effort without a compromise. The attempt was to exploit everything available,- the space, openings, and borrowed views of the surrounding greenery.

Approach :
Capitalizing on the location, the office was envisaged as one large open space which does not emulate the typical scenario of partitions and cubicles in an office. Space was divided into three zones – a public zone which is the working area of staff, trainees, and a private cabin, a semi-public zone which has a meeting room with an attached breakout balcony, and a private zone with a separate toilet and bathroom facility, all connected by a passage with storage on either side. A strategically placed director’s cabin allows him the visibility and ease of access to the staff as well as the conference area.

Finishes :
The color palette was inspired by the indigenous elements like the colors of the ocean, the grey monsoon skies, and the lush green Coconut and Mango trees. The splash of teal and turquoise which is used throughout the project brings in the freshness and vibrancy. The main door with the same color palette accentuates the entry to the office. The triangular patterns on the main door as well as in the meeting room break the monotony of the straight and parallel lines. A palette of Greys and Whites facilitates the natural light minimizing the need for artificial lighting, creating a fresh environment for the users as well as the visitors. Some areas were deliberately finished in wood, not only to balance the number of colors but to emphasize a particular space.

Salient features :
The architects have adhered to a minimalistic approach while designing the furniture. All the partitions, storage units, tables were stripped of any extras (any ornamentation, handles, etc) and designed on the essentials of utility and ease of handling. The staff table and meeting room table are finished in white Duco whereas the tables for trainees are finished in painted cement sheets to add a texture. The aesthetically unpleasing split AC units were hidden inside the cabinets with vertical wooden jaali shutters. The balcony adjacent to the meeting room is covered with a pergola and toughened glass above to keep out the glare as well as the rains. Grey and white ikat fabric, sandwiched by two glass panels further filters the light giving it an ethnic touch. By the virtue of its location the terrace above receives plenty of sunlight except for the months of monsoon, but good enough to generate electricity for the entire office. All the lights, Fans, computers are powered by two large solar panels fixed on the terrace. The design is a conscious effort to have an efficient, vibrant and clutter-free workspace that can foster a positive environment for the users as well as the visitors.

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