When designing a big corporate headquarter, the task of seamlessly integrating different spaces to create one unified whole can be daunting. Introduce Planet 3 Studios in to the picture, and the task turns into a creative opportunity to explore new design aesthetics. The forever-young and dynamic firm managed to do just that for Clariant chemicals’ new corporate office in Airoli, Navi Mumbai. Spread over one-lakh sq-ft, this project breaks new ground with its crafted snaking form, which visually links the office together, and the extensive use of embedded technology through the space.
“The corporate headquarters and laboratories with different connecting cores was a challenging site with the need for complex interrelation unifying four different floors into a common thread. There was no single core connecting the different floors and we had to devise a strategy for visitor management,” explains, principal architect, Kalhan Mattoo. The solution was an elongated main reception area that straddled two cores of the property and also allowed interconnection between floors. This zone ensured that the visitor, once inside, didn’t have to leave the company’s secure area to access the different parts of the office while other floors were provided with independent subsidiary reception.
The main reception area is designed as an architectural expression resonating with the company’s bold statement of purpose to be recognised as a leading player in the industry. The generosity in the space – expansive, uncluttered and minimalistic -intends to give the visitor a distinctive brand experience. The sculpted reception desk is undoubtedly the focal point here with its new-age appearance and seamless finish. Complementing this desk is abacklit stretched PVC ceiling, an outsized screen with interactive feed educating the visitor about the companyand a dramatic curved wall that leads to the office interiors. Adjoining this entry zone are meeting rooms nestled in fire engine red back-painted glass.
Integrating laboratories and offices of different businesses required complex space planning, according to Mattoo. “We allowed for cluster grouping and yet maintained it as one integrated space. By strategically inserting cabins and other walled spaces, webroke the open plan to create points of change between unrelated departments and businesses,” he adds. A wide central spine and clear sight lines ensure that the office retains the sense of being one space. The 8ft wide central path animated with casual spaces, coolers and beverage dispensers and casual seatingalso doubles up as a social space.
“Only the BPO arm required a deliberate separation and segregated access for operational reasons,” mentions the architect. The corporate floor and the lower floors are connected through a space designated and equipped for conferences and meetings. The business heart of the office is equally accessible to the management and the employees. A handcrafted screen and series of warped fins isolate the MD’s area on the corporate floor in a way that satisfies the needfor privacy without compromising on approachability.
In order to break the rigidity associated with office interiors, the design studio conceptualised a faceted partition crafted out of wood that leads from the outside in,turning and twisting to form alcoves and spaces for casual interaction. It also acts as a visual device that links together separate businesses and provides a counterpoint to the structured nature of an orthogonal workstation layout.
Different office zones, like the casual meeting spaces, have been equipped with technology so as to interact on a personal level and enable employees to connect to certain aspects of a space with a tap on their smartphones. Another example is the digital displays with background colour coding, which act as personal signboards outside cabins and communicate availability.
Offering a break from the work environment is the cafeteria, designed as a contemporary casual dining destination thatprovides a social setting within the work environ. The vibrant design of this space – white panels over a sunshine yellow surface – helps to break away from the routine and also fosters an open, collaborative culture.Besides creating a trendy design language in the cafeteria, the square acoustical panels help manage the noise factor. “We designed special luminaries that light up both ways – up and down – so that the ceiling as well as the tables get illumination,” mentions Mattoo. The loose stackable furniture ensures that the cafeteria can be converted into a town hall meeting space when needed. Fully equipped with projection systems and LCD screens, this space can be transformed into a seminar space with ease.
Overall this project has a careful mix of outsourced and crafted components: factory finished workstations, partitions and loose furniture are paired perfectly with on-site crafted feature walls, reception tables and stretch fabric ceiling – together lending this office its unique character. Clariant chemicals’ corporate office has it all: dramatic spaces providing the ultimate brand experience, free-flowing organic walls and partition linking the big office and its multiple cores, multiple break out spaces, visually exciting cafe designed with acoustical considerations and a technology-enabled interactive space.
Project: Clariant Chemicals office
Location: Navi Mumbai
Architects: Planet 3 Studios Architecture Pvt. Ltd
Project team: Kalhan Mattoo, Santha Gour Mattoo, Dhiraj Narang, Amey Kandalgaonkar, Prachi Parikh, Ashwini Hublikar
Photography credit: Mrigank Sharma, India Sutra