Project Credits :
Project : Neel, Mumbai
Architect: Sameep Padora and Associates
Photography: Edmund Sumner
Design Team: Vami Koticha (Lead Designer), Archita Banerjee, Aparna Dhareshwar
Apart from the varied culinary skills that a restaurant possesses, the key note to what makes it aesthetically appealing, is the ambience that it offers to its patrons. Located in one of the busiest suburbs of Mumbai, Neel restaurant designed by Lead Designer Vami Koticha from Sameep Padora and Associates (sP+a), embodies a hospitable aura for all those who come and dine.
The L-shaped ground floor plan of the restaurant stood interrupted by some massive columns amidst the dining space. There was no escaping these huge, rectilinear columns that dominated the site for the second outpost of one of the most flaunted hospitality brands in the city of Mumbai. The floor plate being overloaded by columns posed as a great challenge to the design team. Hence the objective was to reduce the static mass of these columns by establishing a steering elegance to the space.
Design was put to use as another avenue to advance the power of space. Thereby turning the space limitations into their strength, a camouflage had to be developed in a manner that would not only condense the massing but would also highlight the columns in a bold yet subtle way. In order to accomplish this, various building materials were explored, eventually narrowing it down to steel pipes. These stainless steel pipes were considered so as to provide a subtle counterpoint to the rigidity of the reinforced concrete. Being slender in character they help draw the human eye to a lighter, reflective material. The reflective surface of the pipes trims down the enormity of the columns and adds a light, airy dimension to the space. In addition to this characteristic, these pipes can be moulded and twisted as per the design requirements. With an aim to infuse some fresh geometry into the stagnant nature of the plan, these slender yet malleable stainless steel pipes served the dual purpose of adding lightness and flexibility to the space created.
The design strategy adopted was to incorporate doubly curved spiralling stainless steel tubes that sprang between the faces of two oppositely positioned columns. This dynamic geometry seamlessly flows through the entire space thereby unifying the L-shaped plan of the restaurant. The gesture created by this technique, articulates a visual guide for the visitors. It helps them indulge in an entirely new spatial experience right from the start to its end. Each pipe required individual bending with utmost care so as to ensure smooth curves and nearly invisible joinery.
The diagrammatic development of the design was prepared with supreme accuracy. Pipes that twist and fan away in different directions were digitally modelled in the design studio itself and precisely converted into a full scale installation by a team of skilful craftsmen who stood up brilliantly to the challenge.
The reflected ceiling plan demonstrates the intrinsic logic of transforming a rectilinear space to re-order the spatial configuration.
Lighting being the key element to any design helps generate an ideal mood to the space. The ambient lighting arrangements made including the tiny light points, integrated into the structure itself were reflected in and off the stainless steel pipes. This design approach further added grace and subtlety to the space.
Every space comes with its own set of challenges. It is the role of the designer to embrace these challenges and turn them into his design strength. Regardless of the challenges the site held, the restaurant truly exemplifies a space that summarizes design through its material flexibility and minimalistic charm.