Mumbai-based designer Sandhya Mukundan creates a revitalising, green workspace for BP's office in Mumbai.
In recent years, the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) has emerged as the most desirable business address in Mumbai. From diamond bourses to financial institutions and import export companies to IT, business entities of all hues operate out of this commercial hub, generating just the right buzz for a global petroleum conglomerate like the British Petroleum (BP) to feel right at home here. The BP office is located in the Maker Maxity building in BKC. Designed by independent designer Sandhya Mukundan, the spacious and sleek office wears its heart on its sleeve... or rather, sports its logo and its corporate colours in its designs. Following the same theme as their Delhi office, the design blends efficiency with casual elements to give employees an inspiring, yet relaxing atmosphere to work in.
The yellow-green Helios logo of BP graces the wall behind the desk of the all-white reception area of the office. The logo, recognised worldwide, represents the nature of the company's business and its core objectives. On the wall are embossed the core values of the company: Safety, Respect, Excellence, Courage and One Team. A wide pallete of green, picked up from the logo, has been used throughout the office to reflect these brand values and create a dynamic, engaging workplace that maximises the potential of the space.
The materials, detailing and graphics express the history, process, geology and safety aspects of BP's business in exploration and production. There is an entire wall graphic that showcases BP's exploration areas through a dotted world map. "By mapping out the entire journey that both employees and visitors will experience, we can identify the key 'touch points' throughout the office that are influenced by the brand," says Mukundan.
The company's thrust towards sustainability has been highlighted by Mukundan through her choice of materials. She has used recycled railroad sleeper wood as an element in the ceiling at the entrance; recyclable materials are used in the flooring, ceiling, furniture, wall coverings, carpets, etc. Special care has been taken to ensure the materials are free of toxic chemicals. Further, the designer has chosen low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints, non-toxic adhesives for fixing wall coverings, carpets, glass sealants, paints and polishing materials.
Colour and light
The design uses space, colour, materials, energy and light to create a healthy and performance-enhancing experience. Splashes of green on the walls and furniture induce a calming effect in the workplace, while the glass used on the fatade and internal walls reflects the company's strong belief in transparency. Saint Gobain toughened clear glass with semi-transparent 3M film has been installed for the cabins and meeting rooms to brighten up the area by allowing natural light to filter in even while maintaining privacy.
Clean straight lines with contemporary, minimalist accessories ensure efficient workflow. The workstations are placed along the window front for maximum utilisation of natural light. The central part of the office has most of the meeting rooms - open, semi-open and fully enclosed. This placement has allowed the designer to use the space at the periphery to create breakout spaces and hybrid-use spaces for informal interactions. The server and utility rooms are segregated in the back for better efficiency and lower noise.
The principal aim of the designer was to ensure an open, spacious office. It was hence necessary to explore alternatives that would demarcate the spaces and make transitions into various sections easier without breaking the line of vision. To serve this purpose, the flooring was given the crucial role of defining and distinguishing areas in the office.
This was fraught with risk as it could easily have led to visual dissonance, but Mukundan has skilfully ensured that the materials used for flooring blend smoothly in transition areas and create no stark differentiation. While the work spaces are defined through carpets, the reception and passage have a rich leather-finished white Italian tile that smoothly transforms into white-and-black chequered flooring as one enters the cafeteria.
Each project, big or small, poses some challenges for the designer. In this project, the difficulty came in the form of an entire office plate divided into two blocks, with a building refuge area in the middle. It was necessary to integrate the two areas into a single collaborative space with a visually kinaesthetic experience, and enable interaction between the two blocks. Mukundan has achieved this through some fun design elements placed in the common areas, which are strategically distributed on both sides of the space to maintain collaboration, communication, connection, and interaction between the offices.
Design and art elements have been optimally used to create a playful mood that can counteract the stressful aspects of a work environment. The passage leading to the cafeteria highlights a curve in the wall with an interesting white-and-green tubing art work created with PVC pipes. The cafeteria, distinctly different from the work areas, has a vibrant, colourful décor that helps employees to unwind and enjoy their meals. The interesting Thangka art boards on the glass walls and on the ceiling are the creations of an artist who was called in especially for this purpose, and they offer a subtle change of subject that is required in a breakout space.
Creativity, sustainability and a high emotional quotient are the most striking features of the BP office. By using a consistent look and feel, Mukundan and her team have built a perfect space for recognition and recall for the BP brand and a warm, refreshing workplace for the employees.
Project Managers: Kartikeya Dube, Anshul Mathur
External Architects: NPAPL (Mumbai office) and Space Matrix (Delhi office)
Total Area: 15,700 sq ft
Total Cost: Rs 3.8 crore
Photos: Indrajit Sathe
Meet the designer: Sandhya Mukundan
Design philosophy: While developing a concrete design from abstract thoughts, my belief is in keeping costs low and creativity high.
Philosophy towards life: For me, giving back to society is most important. I believe that as much as you take, you have to give back.
Favourite architect/Designer: Rajiv Saini, Frank Lloyd Wright.