Issue | 43
Text | Maria Aslam
Visuals | Courtesy Artist & Writer Shajee Aijazi
Architecture & Interior Design: Studio Subtractive
Client: Artistic Fabrics & Garment Industries (AFGI)
Project: Display Area and Director Offices
Principal in Charge: Ahmed Mian
Project Architect: Fatima Afzal
Covered Area: 6700 sq.ft.
Location: Korangi Industrial Area, Karachi
Project Completion: December 2016
Renovations are always challenging, marrying the old with the new requires expertise and a sensitized design intervention to an existing work area that is already in use. The project neighbourhood also does not have a grandeur of a working district, hence most organisations end up creating capsules of inner spaces to provide their work force an environment conducive to growth and productivity in work. While the site has its limitations in the interior and exterior context the designers are receptive to the human interaction and hence engage the individual as one steps, into the display areas of Artistic Fabrics and Garment industries.
The firm Subtractive led by the designer duo; Ahmed Mian and Seyhr Aziz were tasked with completely overhauling the ground levels for display areas and executive offices of an existing five storey building. To maximize the space, their first inclination, quite naturally was to open it up with landscape. So the firm split the plan into landscape, public and private zones.
The program required for a clear space where AFGI products would be displayed, with the inclusion of separate offices and meeting rooms for the directors of the company. The designers positioned the open space showroom towards the north facing section of the building, to capture the northern light, which is free from intense glare and vastly reduced thermal heat gain. This strategy helped to bring in diffused natural light into the interior of these spaces in the day-time, curtailing the dependence on artificial light sources for adequate light levels.
The linear positioned rooms also form a purely functional and performance driven environment with ease of manoeuvrability and connection of spaces. The linearity is juxtaposed with the landscape strip to enhance the integration of outside to inside and in flooding the interiors with natural light. The metal frame structure that holds the glazing as skylight and partitioning element visually opens the space clearly signifying private enclosures yet encompassing the extension as one unit. The linear divide of corridor sandwiched between glass dividers and marking the public and private areas presents an open plan composition to the project.
“It was essential to select materials, finishes and furniture that didn’t overwhelm, and overpower the product line;” says Ahmed. Throughout, the firm used a deliberately restrained palette of concrete, wood and steel, and filled the renovation with minimalist imaginative details. The polished concrete floors areas and suspension lights hang over spaces required to catch your attention. The overall monochromatic colour palette with natural materials like stone, poured concrete floor, steel and aluminium were selected to create an environment that reflects the industrial setting, in an elegant context. This allows the play of contrast for the products and furniture within the interior to be more prominent.
The austere muted usage of colour, French panelled interior walls, with sparse furniture in minimal details highlight individual spaces. This understated design application reinvents the working atmosphere of an organization that has been in production for decades.
The interwoven landscape, the dappling of shadow and light filtering the interior spaces is a design intervention that infuses this particular project with sunlight, green and joy for individuals working and interacting with the spaces. The extension of the buildings sits in complete harmony with the existing façade in complete acceptance. It is hard to note that the metal-framed extension in actuality is the latest intervention in the expansion of the structure that has been part of this particular neighbourhood for decades.