Tranquility is often associated with either homely environs or a meditative space, say a spa or a religious institution. One would rarely associate that sense of calmness and positive energy with an office. But that’s precisely what you experience at Softbank Energy’s new address in Delhi, and Arvind Vivek & Associates (AVA) deserves all the credit. The Delhi-based architecture and design firm led by principal architect Vivek Gupta has designed a haven for creativity and wellbeing — all within the framework of a functional office space.
The Japanese principle ‘shibumi’ — which translates to “a particular aesthetic of simple, subtle and unobstructive beauty” — enabled the design team to formulate such a serene office. It determined the restrained material palette and the need for an indoor-outdoor connection. From the perspective of office layout, the design relies on simplicity and minimalism to create “a mélange of modern architecture and natural ornamentation.”
Setting the tone for the office is the monochromatic reception, designed in micro concrete, which is cleverly offset by the mustard-coloured informal seating and the warm glow from the assortment of pendant lights. As an unboxed space, the reception provides glimpses of the office. However, only the meeting rooms are placed closer to it, while the main work area is situated further away. A Zen Court acts as a buffer between these two zones, while also adding a serene outdoor element (mainly the champa tree) right in the middle of the office.
“The design stimulates creativity and is filled with a wide range of furniture that can be moved and configured into endless setups as and when required,” shares the design team at AVA. Columns clad in a special film double up as writing walls, where employees can brainstorm or express creative thoughts. A video wall, designed mainly for presentations, which is visible from the entrance, displays important information and targets.
Flexible and versatile work areas enable the team to brainstorm or organise meetings at ease. They also double up as informal areas for employees to work in privacy. Each workstation has been customised ergonomically. “Workspace ergonomics plays a vital role in the overall productivity efficiency of employees. A spruced up office not only looks great but also boosts enthusiasm,” the AVA team shares.
While the linear planning facilities a productive and efficient environment, the palette of concrete and pine wood creates an aesthetic space. The space features a bare grey ceiling with exposed services organised in a grid, customised LED lights for overall lighting, pendant lamps over workstations and glass partitions supported by aluminium channels that allow natural light to generously flood the space.
The private cabin sees the continuation of the design scheme in terms of material palette and simplicity in planning. It enjoys the corner glazing of the building and makes the most of the natural light, which complements the colour scheme of white, grey, blues and pine wood. The palette continues even in the large conference room located at the other end of the office.
Vivek Gupta, principal architect, AVA.
In the centre of the floor lies an eye-catching geometric grid that separates the working region and the dining-cum-informal working space. “This produces a chic and creative wall with sleek angles and smooth lines that exude a sophisticated allure. Inside the grillwork are planters, gussying up the sterile premises,” the team explains.
Perhaps the most significant design intervention is the double-heighted private terrace that the office enjoys. The original “monstrous black metal plate” serving as a view-cutter has been converted into a green wall. Landscaped with a waterbody, plants and astroturf, this space perfectly aligns with the ‘shibumi’ principle. It is amply visible from the office interiors and creates a dialogue between the indoors and outdoors. “The terrace is a mixed recreational-work space with the indoor introducing greenery by means of cafe partitions,” says the design team.
Triangular parasols are arranged over a cluster of benches in the terrace, alluding to a village congregational space under the shade of a tree. The water body on the terrace contributes towards evaporative cooling along with wind movement, creating a micro climate and reducing the ambient temperature. With an overall scheme that elevates wood and nature, the contemporary office design of Softbank Energy by AVA ensures there is an innate connection to nature, resulting in a Zen-like ambience at work.
Principal Architect: Vivek Gupta
Associate Architect: Amruta Turkhud
Client: Softbank Energy
Location: Aerocity, New Delhi
Partitions: Aluminum alloy
Glass: Saint Gobain
Paints: Asian paints
Lighting: Philips (bay ceiling lights, arc lamps); CLS Lynys suspended and recessed light; barrisole fabric lighting
Flooring: Kajaria Nacaria Gris tiles, Micro topping
Misc: Eubiq channels on table tops, pine wood for table tops, MS frame for support, Durlum ceiling