Believing that every Problem has a capacity to inspire unique and creative solutions that motivate growth, the young duo Badrinath Kaleru and Prerna Kaleru have founded Studio Ardete in Chandigarh. Both have gained vast experience earlier working across Asia and Europe with Domique Perrault and Jean Michel Wilmotte in Paris, Shuhei Endo in Japan and Mario Cucinella in Italy. They have graduated from prestigious IIT Roorkee where Badrinath Kaleru has won the Gold Medal for best thesis Project.
The Team Ardete has a handful of passionate individuals who are always ready to push beyond their boundaries. The team aims to make each project they undertake, a study in logical and comprehensive designing. Their vision is to design spaces that would evolve into art, enriching the lives of people inhabiting them.
Working on Projects ranging from architecture to interiors the firm is motivated to transform what is regular & conventional and flirt with the boundaries in art and architecture. Their work has been published in various national and international magazines. They have been runner up at WAF 2015 and A’ Design Awards, Italy.
Tell us about the journey of Studio Ardete so far.
Believing that no dream is too big, Studio Ardete was started with an aim to change the global perception of Contemporary Indian Architecture. Having worked with Dominque Perrault, Wilomotte in Paris, and Mario Cucinella in Italy and Shuhei Endo in Japan, we could realise the difference between Indian practices and Global Practices in general. If we rate it even on Passion coefficient, they were far ahead. It started with a Big dream and Tremendous passion. It was not that easy initially to work with passion, people weren’t used to. But Patience pays and slowly things started working and we could work with like-minded people.
Do you follow any particular design philosophy?
“Life is More”- Built spaces need to celebrate the Human existence, the Life. Buildings need to connect to its users at an emotional domain. If it happens, the physical aspects of the space the form, materials and style disappear, the space bonds to its user like another human, it becomes alive.
Ardete works on this to develop spaces that involve ways to connect to its user. In Atelier Kirkos the concrete structures were made by the Client itself. There were very strong involvement and a design that has evolved out of client expertise, it created a strong sense of connecting to space and the client. Understanding the users and designing in the way it synergies with the users is more than just architecture, its life. Ardete tries to build the bridge between the human emotions and built spaces.
Who or what has been your greatest inspiration?
We always seek inspiration from everyone. Challenged the world around it and have undergone all the hardships to prove it. Right from Gaudi, Gustav Eiffel to Corbu, Mies to Ando, Gehry and Zaha, they all are inspiring great architects. Inspiration even comes from a fabricator who has put in the soul for the quality and finish you desire. The positivity around you is always inspiring and makes you push even harder.
As young architects, how do you balance the equation between a client’s expectations and your design sensibilities?
Architects eventually turn as good counsellors. Apart from the corporate and institutional clients, the phase Indian client is in, more often than not, we meet clients who are getting work done for the first time and so many times the scope of the Architect is unknown. So the expectations in services need to be properly translated initially.
In terms of design, the most famous paradox among clients is “We want a very unique and revolutionary design concept, but we want to see it once where it is already done.” So, it takes a while to convince a client in initial stages to a point where he realizes, that you think more about his project than he does. So then the client leaves everything to you. It’s good and bad at the same time as you have no one to blame further.
You mentioned about experimenting with new materials. Please share some instances.
In every project we do one quick research and look for ways of reinterpreting applications for materials:
Atelier Kirkos - The Reception had 1500 rods in the ceiling, each one had a different dimension to form a parametric ceiling. The entrance door had 8mm, 16mm pipes used in hospitals and industries for gas supply.
Moksha - Here we worked with a lot with ropes. Their tension to hold up a partition and ropes in the ceiling, natural tree branches, used cycles.
In Martins, the FRP was something the factory is already used in some decorations, we got them to make a custom mould and made it the element of ceiling.
Manasara, we experimented with CNC cutting, metal punching of various natures. The door used a lot of copper and brass sheets; the screen shows the pattern experimentation in a modern way using a traditional machine.
Fluid – We used FRP to make hexagonal oblique polyhedron modules for the ceiling, with turquoise hand painted mirrors. The wall panels geometrical pattern engraving is in HPL.
Is designing Green gaining acceptance with the clients you work with?
Being Responsible for the environment and emissions is equally important for a good design as that of space optimization and efficient planning. Sustainability needs to be present right from the nucleus stage of reinterpreting the clients brief. Sustainability is to be extended beyond materials and specifications. It is also about Adaptability, Flexibility and Diversity.
Adaptability is the capability of being modified during its lifecycle to meet the changing life and needs of potential users. Flexibility is the extent to which a space designed when new, be capable of being transformed, easily varied at any later time with minimal cost and user inconvenience due to changing needs.
Diversity is the ability of space being able to use for multiple activities at different times.
For Example An office building could have a recreation space, cafeteria and library in separate spaces or could have a lounge which would need less space to cater all three together. Clients would always be happy with such an approach because of the win-win situation for the organisation.
Being in a city well known for its architectural legacy, tell us how the current architecture is evolving in Chandigarh.
Being blessed with Master Architect at its inception, Chandigarh had its golden era. But soon when the major projects have been finished, there was an architectural vacuum in the city. The architecture which was built after that could not match up as they were inferior imitations. Unfortunately, the best architecture still standing belongs to the golden period. But the Younger architects are finding new roads for the city; hopefully, they would be successful and bring back the architectural legacy of the city in a new way. But there is lot of work to be done.
A project that is close to your heart and why?
It’s always rewarding to see bold concepts taking shape, the sheer joy lies in the project when it comes live. The designer always intends the project to respond to what it is desired for. If a project performs far more than what it is intended to and beyond expectations of a designer, then that would be the greatest gift a designer can have. Atlelier Kirkos was initially intended to be an office for a Builder with space for client interactions. When space has been done, it created a new social identity for the patron. It has been a space for gathering for Admistration body for their meetings. The unique project has attracted many potential clients as visitors.
You dream to work like…
Prerna is a strong fan of Zaha, she is always inspired by her and talks about how a woman has transformed the way the buildings are designed. I am always fascinated by the designs of Herzog and de Meuron who always inspire me.
In Atelier Kirkos, the concrete structures were made by the Client itself. There were very strong involvement and a design that has evolved out of client expertise, it created a strong sense of connecting to space and the client. Understanding the users and designing in the way it synergies with the users is more than just architecture, its life.
Designed as an amalgamation of contemporary and organic features, Fluid Bar Lounge is located on the terrace of an existing boutique hotel on the main highway leading to the city of Chandigarh.
The entrance to the lounge and bar is characterized by an installation of a collection of custom made FRP panels. Two hexagonal modules are fused together (used singularly in the interiors) and are positioned at strategic points at the entrance, setting a theme for the interiors, while inviting the visitor inside.
Its organic design adds depth to the bar, while giving the impression of a larger area. Made using 157 hexagonal polyhedron FRP (Fiber- Reinforced Plastic) panels, the ceiling provides a unifying element, binding the whole space together cohesively. Two sides of the customized FRP panels are hand painted as turquoise mirrors, acting as reflecting surfaces for colour changing LEDs.
The bar counter is designed in white onyx, emitting translucent light, changing colours to complement the general theme and tone of the ambience. Zigzag shelves act as the bar back, providing a defined background to the bar. Personifying waves, the strong features of the bar back are softened by light washing between them. To counter the ceiling and bar elements, the walls are deliberately kept subdued.
Marked by a presence of strong sculptural elements, Atelier Kirkos, was visualized as an office space that would break stereotypes and defy conventionality. Introducing layers of monochromatic
components, Kirkos uses parametric modeling to introduce dynamism to the spaces, bringing fluidity in the visual dimension.
Located in Punjab, India, the office was designed for Mr. Ravijeet, a reputed Civil Contractor. His experience in the field and will to experiment allowed him to partake in the execution of the project, which came in useful while designing for the atypical site. With a clear width of 38 feet, the site was a column free space— a feature that was not to be overlooked.
Since the office was to primarily host meetings in the future, the design was based on the Conference Room. The idea was to utilize the site conditions to showcase the progress and possibilities of the construction industry while reinterpreting contemporary office interiors. The circular conference room is 17 feet in diameter and is designed using completely transparent glass.
The entrance to the office is defined by a nine feet by six feet wide pivoted metal door, designed in a composition of tapering metal pipes. An installation designed parametrically using 1500 circular rods hanging in an organic wave structure from the ceiling marks the waiting and reception area. The fluid structure aims to hold the attention of the viewer, subconsciously drawing her inside and setting the tone for the experience of the space.
The installation is visualized in white to contrast it against the grey of the walls and the floor.
Creating drama and movement in the vast space, the conference is flanked by three dimensional curvilinear structures designed using special construction techniques and methods of reinforcement and formwork. The structures use M-30 concrete with OPC and graded aggregate with desired MS bars for reinforcement in 50mm complete thickness. Curvilinear framework and pouring of joint-less concrete caste in situ offered challenges that were carefully overcome.
The various elements of the office space are brought together in a cohesive whole by the black mirror granite flooring. Light pippy oak veneers introduce colour to the neutral palette; cracked pippy oak is used in parquet style paneling for the reception backdrop whereas knotty pippy oak, in parquet form, is used for the rest of the spaces.
In a step towards sustainability, all the lighting fixtures and sources use solar power. Use of digital software and careful planning along with meticulous attention to detail overcomes the challenges the project affords, both in design and ideology.
With the aim to bring about a perspective shift in the way office spaces are read and perceived, Atelier Kirkos flirts with the boundary separating art and architecture.
Disha Agencies is a store dealing in electrical equipments located in the heart of the electronics and electrical market in the city of Chandigarh. Sitting in the middle of the chaotic scenario of the urban setup the area provides, the store needed a renovation and a makeover. The idea was to attract a different variety of clientele without losing the existing customer base.
Ideologically, the challenge was to re-imagine the whole space with additions without changing the context. The solution was to divide the space into two zones. The front zone deals with electrical equipments and the rear zone is designed as a space to display decorative and outdoor lighting fixtures in a studio-like space. These two are connected via a passage that acts as a buffer, separating, yet binding the two zones together. Both of these spaces are conceived as independent and individual entities with a common underlying design sensibility. The first zone is a study in contrasts with its grey background tone superimposed with fluid white forms that begin at the ceiling but drop down to become part of the walls - movement caught and frozen in space.
A semi-covered discussion area uses hollow white pipes extending from the floor to the ceiling to distinguish it from the rest of the space as one enters. Further on, green is added in juxtaposition with wooden paneled display units, for electrical equipment to enlivening the interiors. The passage connecting the two zones uses infinity mirror to pique the curiosity of the visitor. The somber, dark theme of the passage contrasts perfectly with the highlighted interiors of the front zone.
Housing unique light fixtures, the rear zone is carpeted, floor to ceiling, in black. An irregular, zigzag volume designed as a display for the fixtures, sits in the center of the space. Each fixture is given a place of importance, treated as a piece of art in an exhibition and appreciated as such. Hanging fibre optic cables with dynamic lighting extend over the entire ceiling exuding sophistication. The MD’s cabin adjacent to the outdoor display area is designed in shades of light grey and brown. The ceiling uses wooden panels arranged in random, geometrical patterns with a single light fixture used as the main element. The furniture is kept dark to match the flooring of the space.
A meeting room is also included in the showroom, featuring fabric panels with backlit crystal lighting. A white section of the ceiling moves down and converts into a conference table in an offbeat design solution.
The overall design in a study in successful manipulation of volumes and materials used to create a powerful language.
The project, located on an industrial site in Panchkula, India, presented a unique problem for the architects, necessitating them to come up with an unusual solution. A Furniture factory cum display center and an adjacent building, both owned by the client needed to be visually connected so as to give them a common facia. The client wanted to present the viewer/guest with a unified front as far as the buildings were concerned. But as per the local by-laws, only metal fabrications could be used to achieve the same. Since, both the buildings had their own individual characteristics and different internal planning, no drastic measures could be employed. A method needed to be devised wherein the desired could be achieved without altering the existing design.
Finally, a concept was developed that would allow just that.
An external screen of expanded metal mesh was unanimously decided as the best solution. Further, to make the design site sensitive an additional layer of FRP panels was added, which also helped in reducing south heat gain.
The FRP panels were created in the industrial workshop of the Furniture factory itself as the designers wanted the exterior to be synchronized with the core of the factory. A mould was custom-made for the panels based on the inputs given by the client and design specified by the architects. The dazzling yellow of the panels was deliberately decided upon to provide a contrast to the dull grey of the metal mesh. The unconventional design of the façade provides a relief from the monochromatic, regular surroundings.
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