Thursday, May 29, 2014


The Chimes Building, Gurgaon has been featured in May' 2014 issue of Journal of Indian Institute of Architects. We reproduce the content here.

Ar Aashish V Karode, B.Arch. MUD (Berkeley), USA
Aashish believes in Architecture that is beautifully functional, ecologically responsible and environmentally sustainable. While he finds his passion in the careful balance of client and end user input, he matches this with an uncompromising dedication to design that elevates the experience of places that he designs. His hands-on project involvement, with his dedication and commitment to sustainable design through elegant and high performance environments are the key to many of the successful projects done by the firm. His core expertise of a strong creative design approach to projects and a practical methodology to finding solutions that fit the client's needs is an essential component that shapes the firm's design philosophy.

With over 20 years of extensive design experience on a number of significant projects, Aashish has led the firm in a variety of works ranging from hospitality, schools, commercial and institutional projects to townships including the Reliance Power Township at Sasan, and Industrial Townships in Odisha and various LEED Gold and Platinum projects that the firm has recently been engaged with.

Ar Sushil L Karer, B.Arch., Institute of Environmental Design
Karer is focused on the role that design plays in creating exciting and stimulating environments that are sustainable over their life cycle and use resources conservatively. He has more than 20 years of experience in architecture, facilities planning, design and concept development of Institutional Architecture and Interior Design in the IT, hospitality, retail and residential sectors and project implementation. His experience and commitment is a complement to Design Atelier's sustainability resume and market focus. Karer adds depth and energy to his team because of which the company has emerged as one of the most highly regarded architectural firms in the country.


The Architecture of the Chimes Building, Gurgaon is about creating public spaces that are accessible and enable the experience of nature within the spaces of the building, symbolizing life inside the building. The design of the building addresses issues of sustainability, sociability, making room for nature, and programme flexibility. The building mass is specially developed to demonstrate a novel solution for a multi-tenanted office building with floor plate size flexibility to create a mix of tenants from various service sectors and industries. To create a high profile address, it was envisioned to organize each floor as potentially heterogeneous openplan environments. They can be combined or be separated on user requests with controlled indoor environments and amenities to suit a variety of needs for large and small businesses organized to share common community resources set up in the building.

The design of the building emphasizes diversity of all kinds: juxtaposition of people, functions, built forms, spaces. Activities are just some of the fundamental elements that help encourage an inclusive and sustainable public sphere that thrives at all times. The building is raised up from the ground on pilotis, allowing free-flowing open spaces. The building is shaded from the harsh sun, with a variety of water pools and guided streams cooling the air and plants growing within and around the building on the site to cool the ground. A variety of public spaces are created at ground level that are accessible, shaded and close to nature. These spaces encourage serendipitous meetings, foster community engagement and active participation in urban work life.

At the ground, the concept of openness, spaces flowing together, plays a major factor in the design. The public areas including a restaurant/café are located on the ground floor, with smaller spaces to encourage people to meet spontaneously for coffee or for informal meetings. Various spaces for public functions are offered- an open air performing arts theatre, a cafeteria, a future exhibition space and a restaurant. A number of available conference rooms, meeting lounges form a complete sociable and efficient centre for the complex to respond to all nature of business requirements. Sky terraces attached to each floor plate connect to nature.

To maximize the use of green spaces and the views from within and outside and make use of the ground, otherwise lost to building footprint, the design places the gardens around glass-lined movement corridors and staircase cores. The journey path through the spaces of the building, lift lobbies, holding areas, social spaces, cafeteria and reception are located along the way and designed as people places. It suggests the idea of diverse experience of graded light and shaded spaces, landscape variation to include plant and animal life (etched into the stone surfaces), air, earth and water as part of each of the pauses and transition experiences. Visual connections are made through glass courtyards, corridors and lobbies, together with the complex interconnections and interpenetrations of interior spaces, the interplay of light and choices of just a few material finishes. The symbolism of the landscape and the architectural artifact are intended to enliven the whole ensemble.

The form development follows the idea of raising the building on pilotis to relieve the ground and give back the landscape to the ground- creating a sociable and welcoming space of the entrance reception. Reception is a glass cube set in a water garden, using plants as tree cover and water as climate modulators. A variety of water bodies and plants have been provided around and inside the building to cool the ground, and transform it into a space with positive energy, shaded social spaces, and graded light. Open spaces and light wells work as courtyards that relieve the bulk of the form and supply natural light to the inside of the office floor plates.

The floor plates are modular, independently equipped with amenities/ facilities for modern office requirements and can be combined into heterogeneous open plan environments to suit a variety of needs for a mix of large and small businesses sharing common community resources set up in the building. With this profile, the flexibility in floor plate size makes for best possible marketing to create a mix of tenants from various service sectors and industries.

The Façade design is guided by its visibility and response to the street corner, visibility from the surrounding spaces and the main roads and to the climatic considerations of the solar path, natural light penetration and breezes. It is equally about imagining a sensible notion of contemporariness, with formal and material choice that echo the historic form of massive Indian wall making that rejects heat and the high sun, but allows filtered natural light. The North allows light, but rejects reflected heat, the ribbon windows on the west, east and south faces are set high on the floor plate to allow the deeper penetration of a limited amount of the harsher western and southern light, but freely allows internal courtyard reflected light and North light to penetrate the plates through large treated glass surfaces. The heat gain thus reduced is further mitigated by the use of heat reflective paint and the insulated wall section.

A number of strip windows in the otherwise massive walls are used to visually connect the interior and the exterior and is mitigated by the use of anti-dazzle e-glass so people do not lose touch with the natural environment while at work. Outsiders get curious glimpses of light and activity through the façade that activates the otherwise solid building as a place of action.

The architecture is used to develop the building marked by energy efficiency, operational convenience, low operational cost and optimized investment costs. It focuses not only on the façade, sun shading, and lighting details but above all, also on minimizing the energy consumption of the building while optimizing natural light consumption. The building is glazed on the North face and on shaded facades with higher performance glass responsive to the conditions. On exposed and direct heat receiving faces a solar façade of small openings set up high on the floor, allow less direct heat and maximizes penetrations of light into the plate.

The insatiable demand for parking is met by the provision for a double stack parking system, extra capacity preferred parking spaces for car poolers, and parking for the electric shuttle to connect with the future metro nearby. This facilitates an office building without visible cars and frees the ground to landscape and a pleasing outdoor environment.

The building consists four inter connected floor plate blocks of varied size and scale organized around courtyards. These floors are independently equipped with amenities for all modern office requirements.

Project Details
Name of Client : Chimes Group, Athena
Business Solutions
Design Team : Aashish Karode, Prosenjit Banerjee
Site Area : 2 Acres
Built-Up Area : 270,000 sft
Date of Commencement : March 2008
Completion Date : January 2011- 2012 Interiors
Photo Credits : Dileep Prakash, Aashish Karode, Navin Kumar

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Japan to Assist India Build 24 Green Cities in Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor

In recent years India has worked to diversify its energy supplies and make its infrastructure ‘greener’. The ambitious Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor project is the largest infrastructure project currently underway in the country. Japan is helping India to build 24 Green Cities in India’s western region. The work in 7 of the 24 green cities has already underway, with Gujarat set to be the first state to undergo an eco upgrade. The green cities project is part of the proposed $90 billion Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor mega-infrastructure project which aims at boosting the economic growth along the about 1500-km-long stretch that joins the most important cities of India, New Delhi and Mumbai.

The objective is to develop green cities which would be planned and executed in a manner that would ensure sustainable growth. These proposed cities would have better transport facilities centered around public transport. The green cities will also have access to optimized power supply and 24-hour water supply. It has also been planned that these cities would also have their own waste and water recycling plants.

Japan is offering its energy-efficient technologies to make these green cities as sustainable as possible. Japan has invested in numerous infrastructure projects in India including the Delhi Metro project. The DMIC project is already underway and will cover six states: Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

India: Urbanization & Increase in Traffic Congestion

Traffic congestion is a serious problem in most cities of India, with hardly any space for safe pedestrian movement. Even in public transport services like buses and and trains, the public has to struggle for few inch of space as they are overcrowded. The fast urbanization across India including in cities like Chennai (which is the commercial capital of south India) poses a new set of challenge. In Chennai buses carry 30% more passengers every day than the international average and probably because of the inconvenience attached to this overcrowded public, more and more affluent commuters leave the system and buy their own vehicles. And, because of this, there has been a 95% increase in car ownership in Tamil Nadu state.

In Mumbai, according to a study, 44% of the city walks to work, though among the poor, that number jumps to 63%. Here, in Mumbai as well, the ever-increasing number of cars has brought major complications and this goes beyond traffic jams. Poor air quality and a increase in road accidents has put people particularly those who live and work on the roadsides at great risk.

The traffic problem in Delhi is no different and a study make us acquaint to the traffic scenario in the rest of urban India. There were 44 lakh vehicles on Delhi roads in 2004 which will almost double by 2021 when the next Master Plan will be implemented. The road length, however, has not increased proportionately.

In Kolkata, metro rail and Vivekanand Setu were constructed to ease traffic flow. But traffic congestion in several old localities and near Haora bridge remains a daily routine. In Ahmedabad, the speed of vehicles comes down to 5 km/hr on Gandhi Marg and several other roads due to congestion and overcrowding.

The big cities of India, because of the unplanned urbanization and overwhelming increase of vehicles, are almost reached to a state of paralysis. There is a strong need to study and find solution to the problems related to traffic congestion and unmindful urbanization!

Green buildings don’t create happier workers!

A new study coauthored by a UC Berkeley researcher says that occupant satisfaction with LEED-certified office building environments appears to decline with time.

If you thought working in a green building leads to greater satisfaction in the workplace, then it is the time for a rethink! According to a new research from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, workers in LEED’s certified green buildings appear no more satisfied with the quality of their indoor workplace environments than those employed in conventional buildings.

The findings of this new research was published in April issue of the journal Building and Environment and concludes that most workers do not experience a higher level of workplace satisfaction simply because they work in LEED certified buildings. This findings are based on the survey responses of 21,477 individuals in 144 mainly large office buildings, mostly in the United States. Of those buildings, 65 are LEED certified. Occupant satisfaction with LEED-certified office building environments appears to decline with time, with the greatest level of satisfaction reported during the first year that a worker spends in a green building.

Researchers, however, said that these conclusions does not mean green certification is outdated, costly or useless. Green buildings do have positive effect on people health and well-being, climate change and energy security.