Ar­chi­tec­ture Samira Rathod De­sign As­so­ciates

Delux Bear­ings, Suren­drana­gar, Gu­jarat

Domus - - CONTENTS - Text by Kai­wan Mehta

The pro­duc­tion unit and of­fices for the Delux Bear­ing In­dus­tries is lo­cated about 100 kilo­me­tres from Ahmed­abad, in the in­dus­trial area of Suren­drana­gar, in the western In­dian state of Gu­jarat. De­signed by Samira Rathod De­sign As­so­ciates (SRDA), this build­ing is sim­ple, pre­cise and can­did. The build­ing de­sign adopted and ad­dressed the is­sue of pre­ci­sion se­ri­ously and care­fully — pre­ci­sion as the key de­mand of any in­dus­trial and pro­duc­tion space or shed. Pre­ci­sion is key to the ob­ject this fac­tory build­ing pro­duces — that of bear­ings. The fi­nan­cial ef­fi­ciency and pro­duc­tiv­ity of the sys­tem as a whole was cal­cu­lated as pro­por­tion­ate to the pre­cise han­dling of the pro­duc­tion line as well as the re­la­tion­ship of staff to the space as well as the pro­duc­tion unit. The plan of the build­ing and its ba­sic form emerged from the pro­duc­tion line diagram, and the need for this process vis-à-vis the clean­li­ness and dry­ness of the air in­side. Fur­ther­more, the harsh cli­mate of the re­gion needed to be han­dled and man­aged. SRDA takes key de­sign de­ci­sions as a re­sponse to the strict func­tional de­mands of the pro­gramme and site with­out, at any point, be­ing sub­servient to it. A stern struc­ture gets very care­fully de­signed with few el­e­ments that bring in a no­tion of de­sign, and sense of pride in work­ing in an oth­er­wise highly util­i­tar­ian space. The or­gan­i­sa­tion of spa­ces al­though gov­erned by the pro­duc­tion and assem­bly line, the choices for cer­tain spa­ces such as the of­fice or the lobby, or a cor­ri­dor, are care­fully taken to al­low for light and land­scape to in­ter­vene as el­e­ments of de­sign, adding depth and aes­thet­ics to the struc­ture and space. From the de­sign of the can­tilever brack­ets to the rail­ing of the stair­way to the win­dows — a few el­e­ments are play­fully, but thought­fully and min­i­mally in­serted (or rather in­te­grated) into the struc­tural scheme. They be­gin to give the build­ing mean­ing and com­plex­ity that is not con­trived but de­rived from a sense of be­ing in an in­dus­trial space and pro­gramme.

The in­dus­trial na­ture of the space is con­trasted with a ma­te­rial pal­ette that is sparse — the white be­comes nec­es­sary to keep the space dust- and dirt-free at all times, while the wood and fur­ni­ture be­come an oc­ca­sion to hu­man­ise and punc­tu­ate the space spar­ingly but im­pact­fully. The win­dows could not be larger, as a re­sponse to the harsh heat out­side, and so a se­ries of slit win­dows are used to still bring in pat­terns of light hit­ting along walls and floors to ar­tic­u­late the space. The land­scape out­side gives the build­ing a set­ting and pres­ence in the oth­er­wise in­clement ge­og­ra­phy, and as the land­scape will grow and ma­ture, it will cre­ate more shade and lightar­tic­u­la­tion for the spa­ces in­side. The build­ing had to be a tight box and could not have played much with in­side-out­side in­te­gra­tion or more in­ter­nal light-wells, as the fac­tory work­ing and by-laws de­mand a cer­tain kind of space and struc­ture. Thus light and land­scap­ing had to sneak into cer­tain parts of the build­ing through slit win­dows and ar­tic­u­la­tion of walls. This is an in­ter­est­ing struc­ture where min­i­mal­ism and cal­cu­lated or­na­men­ta­tion in­te­grate to com­ple­ment and en­hance each other. The stark­ness of the ex­te­rior is mildly punc­tu­ated by a stream of can­tilever brack­ets or punc­tures in the walls which con­tinue in­side with a dif­fer­ent type of stark­ness that is sharp yet just about play­ful, and which is then in­ter­cepted by a few pieces of de­signed fur­ni­ture and fit­tings such as a ta­ble here and a lamp there. The in­te­rior and ex­te­rior ab­so­lutely flow from one into the other, in­te­grat­ing the build­ing as a whole, and mak­ing for a struc­ture where in­dus­trial pre­ci­sion guides a logic of aes­thet­ics.

This spread, left: ribs of steel were used to can­tilever the cor­ri­dor, as ev­i­dent on the outer sur­face; top: a view of the in­te­rior of the fac­tory

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