Mezza9 at Wockhardt Campus, a Display of Functionality, Shrouded as a Work of Art by MQA Architects

Architecture
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Project Credits:
Project: Mezza9
Architect: Mr. Qutub Mandvivala
Team: Mrs Smita Taware
Client: Wockhardt Campus, Aurangabad
Project Size: 25,000 Sq. ft.
Date of Completion: January 2016
Structural Engineer: Mahimtura Consultants
MEP: HydroMechanical Consultants
Base Text: Ar. Shefali Gayawal Gangal
Photography Credit: Mr. Rahul Pawar

The project undertaken, Mezza9 (Canteen Building at Wockhardt) depicts a sense of varying essentials. On one hand, it comprises of stark utility, arising out of the need to facilitate the function of a canteen at a major industrial plant. On the other, the architecture needed to speak volumes regarding its appearance. It had to be so designed and executed that at no level must the function be compromised, but the building had to symbolize an artistic ideal when viewed by the masses of people. The building had to act as a utility and give the impression of a work of art. Also, the intent of placing the building so is due to the idea of making it a supportive entity, which would percolate an effortless transition between works of different natures. Simultaneously, it would enact as a hub, strengthening ideal to ensure interaction across various departments.

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The concept of the architectural design arose from the idea of creating a form which would represent folds in its element, such as those observed in a singular piece of paper, which holds in itself seamless possibilities and endless alternatives as it can be molded and shaped in a plethora of forms that would create unique and remarkable design through geometric forms. 

Apparently, the evolution of the concept has a direct basis in Ellora Caves, the monumental ancient caves, a UNESCO Heritage Site situated in Aurangabad. The caves are, in factm situated within a 50 km radius from the site, and are an epitome of Indian rock-cut architecture. The caves are try structures, which have been cut and carved on the vertical surface of the Charanandri Hills. The creation is monolithic and massive in appearance and the awe of it has inspired the reminiscent subtractive void spaces in the concrete structure of Mezza9. 

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While the caves belonged to a different era altogether, the project is built to serve the purpose of a café, catering to a total number of approximately 2400 people, situated in an industrial estate. It was kept in mind, that the monotony of an industrial campus, especially one as vast as this, needed to be broken, so that people could make the most of their lunch as well as tea break, that is, leisure time. It was needed that the space evolves into an eclectic form to give a heightened and uplifting experience. With this incentive, concrete was the material opted for, as it not only gave inventive freedom representing monolithic virtue but also retains plasticity to mould the structure in dynamic lightness of being. 

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As aforementioned, the form derived is a representation of playing with a piece of paper, which suggests an infinite number of possibilities of being folded into various forms and creating geometric shapes of increasingly interesting nature. The orientation has been planned so as to ensure that the walls which are being folded in the design protect the interior areas from being exposed to direct southern and northern heat and glare. 

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The concrete was imagined to fold like an origami art-work to give us spaces around and under it. The roof slab is the most important feature of design as its responsibility is to make a statement the moment one sets his eyes on it. Hence, the roof slab folds at various angles to create concrete walls which touch ground. The structure thus seems to emerge from the ground- having its roots deep within its home soil. The concrete with its folds testifies to the fluidity that it is capable of.

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The structure is planned such that it radiates and caters to multiple entries and exit points to various parts of the campus. The expansive interior space reaches beyond, as if out of its realm, through outstretched wings to the open sky. The lightness of the structure has been enhanced by glass and this establishes a stark contrast with the solid monolithic concrete rawness in its true form, devoid of any colour. The angular walls fold either into a space or away from it, like the lids of a box giving views of the sky and landscape, accentuating the aesthetic of the building. The floating dining areas witness a sense of freedom and freshness as surrounding landscape is visible from all sides.

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Once the concept was delved into, the beginning point of the design was determined as the unique situating of the building along the layout as well as the orientation which would be followed within. Alongside, the focus was never deviated, from the bare essentials, such as the morphological aspects of the ground which are site specific, along with the connections required to the road and path network that existed, and the requirements for the functioning of the canteen in the optimum manner. It was planned so that the entrance, which is located adjacent to the pool, allows users to walk across the tranquility of the same into an open area, with seating accommodated alongside a working kitchen area. The space exudes serenity, as the usage of glass panels enhances a fusion between the interiors and the exterior space. In order to make sure that services required will not be compromised, the washing areas have been planned in three corners, therefore exiting is as per convenience.

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The representation of the design as a piece of art, complimenting the precinct, observes a stark coexistence of the distinctive lines of the employed concrete and the enveloping lightness of the glass, which surrounds the entirety of the canteen. The angles that have been created in the intended form are enhanced by the exposed nature of the concrete, and as they reach a specific height, they are shaped to either fold into the space or away from it, as if the structure were an opening box, laying its confines to the observation of the sky, the ensemble complete with the according landscape that heightens the aesthetic prowess of the building.

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The intensity of the building calls for a sturdy structural support system and an open plan which has been achieved by means of employing columns and supports of a minimalistic nature, linking the concrete base and the roof. The design includes an open staircase, which has been tied with steel ropes which formulate a sculptural quality as you ascend the steps and the picture is made resplendent by the glimpse of the lily pools along the side through the shrouding glass, as viewed from the entrance and the executive areas. The implementation of the pools is not solely for the purpose of its scenic contribution but in order to influence the microclimate of the site positively, to make the surroundings cooler. It has been ensured that the prominent service area, that is, the kitchen, is tucked on one side of the layout, so that it is the dining area, which procures clearer views of the pool, and the dining area has been continued on to the first floor. An asymmetric order gives opportunities for outdoor seating areas and terraces on the upper level subtly allowing an informal vibe to the place, blurring the strict lines of hierarchy of the work culture at the industry.  

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The design of the structure are in accordance with the design philosophy of the architect, which speaks of the ability of a space to influence an individual or a collective and make a difference varying from their thoughts to their lifestyles in the course of their advent through life. For the same reason, it is so that the interiors imbibe a sense of freedom and brilliance as the glass engulfs the landscape surrounding the building. There are parts that provide visual stimulation as they connect from one part of the building to the other while acting as a focal node to the experience while moving through the building. This entire drama of architecture planning of angular exposed concrete wall and glass gives you a sense of novelty when discovering spaces and induce curiosity towards exploring the following spaces. 

MQA’s core belief is that architecture and place-making matter, as much today as ever before. We believe that great buildings and spaces can inspire, influence and enhance the lives of their users and the community. Spaces for learning, for socializing, for work, contemplative spaces, and spaces to live and grow old in, must contribute to the positive qualities of life, productivity, and happiness of their occupants. 

Our understanding of architecture and the environment compels us to appreciate and study contextual character, which then influences our design solutions for buildings and places. 

MQA has, over the years developed a reputation to provide innovative design solutions within the context. 

23Ar. Qutub Mandviwala

Across two decades of a remarkably diverse practice, with clients ranging from developers to corporates, MQA Architects has various townships, high rise buildings, residential, commercial, hotels, hospitals and office interior projects to its credit across India. Mr. Qutub Mandviwala, the founder of MQA has an experience of over 24 years.

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– Devashree Vyas ,Volume Zero

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