CW Interiors |
Virtual World | October 2011

Angular Art

Mumbai-based designer Ninad Tipnis makes a strong design statement in this otherwise sober, straight line office at the World Trade Centre.

Sometimes a simple compromise can result in a masterpiece! And Ninad Tipnis, Principal Architect, JTPCL Designs demonstrates this in his design for the Trail Blazer Tours India  
office at the World Trade Centre in Mumbai. Although confronted with multiple challenges - namely, an old building, a low ceiling, a tight deadline - Tipnis has whipped up a design that simply awes the viewer with its chutzpah.

Timely solutions

Working in a locale like the World Trade Centre, Tipnis and his team had restricted timings; nevertheless, the client delivered a daunting 60-day deadline. While that limited the idea of exporting modular furniture and cut short several construction strategies, it gave Tipnis the opportunity to evolve furniture on site. As a solution to the numerous challenges, the design team decided to develop one very strong element of design, leaving everything else straight lined - and construction friendly. "The ceiling was our statement in this project. The impact that it creates forces the visitor to witness the study of design in the ceiling," says Tipnis.

Ceiling challenges

The World Trade Centre has a low ceiling-to-floor height, which left the team with just 7œ feet after the predetermined AC ducting. This was one of the inspirations behind the crazy ceiling. "Although there is method to the madness, we want the visitor to read it as random," says Tipnis. The ceiling also has a very sharp transition. "To kill the effect of the low ceiling, we have used elements that are typically not used when ceilings are low. We have played with the levels in the ceiling, although they aren't distinctly visible," he explains.

The team has continued the expressive nature of the ceiling in the corridor but changed the tonal quality visually: from more of wood in the reception to more of gypsum in the corridor and finally a completely modular ceiling in the workspace. And, wherever they could get few precious inches in the ceiling, they have used suspended lighting.

Two-way design

Tipnis has created two means of access to this facility. While one entrance, with the maximum footfalls, leads to the reception area, the other leads to a more private space frequented by the owner and the company's top clients. "The main entrance has a minimal, simple, straight line entry, with the expansive ceiling. The wooden rafters in the restricted entry, on the other hand, lend an expressive effect," elaborates Tipnis. Each of these elements of design add an artistic touch to the space and lend it an elaborate feel, although when you see each element in isolation, it is minimal. The ceiling pattern at the entry is complemented by the travel desk, which also has a bit of play in it. Another intriguing element here is the lighter shade of laminate with a scattered pattern, which houses and conceals all the electric distri­bution boards.

Spatial sense

The woody tones that dominate the design stand out starkly against the plain and simple canvas. The highly compartmentalised office and the low ceiling-to-floor height called for the need to create a sense of space. Thus, Tipnis and his team came up with a design that enabled minimum traverse distance by placing the different units of each department together, and connecting each department to the one it has to frequently interact with. The screens that divide the work areas have also been cut in height, giving a broader sense of space and at the same time easing communication.

Material handling

Given the constraints, Tipnis and his team resorted to standard, construction friendly, easy-to-manoeuvre materials. "The material balance in the general office area is very simple and is mostly of MDF, plywood and laminate, but certain areas like the public interface zones make a statement with veneer, marble and glass," he explains. Also, since windows are restricted to only the cabins, Tipnis has favoured a lot of glass in the partitions, allowing light to stream through. The flooring is a mix of executive tiles and embossed vinyl flooring, and the owner's office flooring area is adorned with Italian marble.

Although these materials are typical to any office, it is Tipnis' wacky patterns that give the office an offbeat allure; a job well done!

Meet the architect: Ninad Tipnis

Firm: JTCPL Designs, founded in 2002
Firm specialisation: Corporate and banking sectors.
Design philosophy: The essence of design is balance.
Philosophy towards life: The price of discipline is far less than the pain of regret.
Favourite architect/Designer: Hafeez Contractor, Ravi Sarangan, Hani Rashid, Zaha Hadid.

Carpet Area : 2,500 sq ft
Cost: Rs 3,050/sq ft

Text: Shanti Padukone
Photos: Prashant Bhat


JTCPL Designs, 1050, Sadguru Darshan, New Prabhadevi Road, Mumbai-400 025. Maharashtra Tel. 022-2436 6266. Website:
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