Architect Anupam De is the Founder and Principal Architect Anupam De & Associates (ADA). It is an architectural practice that aims to sculpt aesthetic and functionally superior environments. After having being associated with one of India’s largest firms for nearly 14 years, Anupam De started ADA in December 2007. The Mumbai-based firm has grown quickly in this short span, and has an impressive portfolio of work and clientele to its credit. Their commitment to providing world-class design has been enriched with national and international awards.
Anupam De, who has successfully executed many skyscrapers in India, including the iconic Indiabulls Cenre in Mumbai, talks elaborately on his firm’s achievements, latest projects, and about his concepts on façade designs and green buildings in his candid conversation with WFM.
WFM: Please tell us about your practice?
Anupam De (AD): Architect Anupam De & Associates (ADA) is an architectural practice aiming to contribute in sculpting an environment that is both, aesthetically pleasing to the eye as well as functional to the core. Founded in December 2007, our firm is young but possesses valuable and credible experience. Our office, based in Mumbai, provide architectural services for all segments of building along with urban planning.
WFM: Brief us about your approach to your projects.
Anupam De (AD): As a practice, our approach to architecture can be summed up by the key words – passion, influence, inspiration, fascination, integration,
motivation, opportunity and achievement. Our work has always been defined by our willingness to challenge stereotypical responses or conventional solutions.
WFM: How would you describe your signature style?
Anupam De (AD): There is no specific style one adopts, as each project is different in its own way, be it in the user’s perspective or in the urban context. Our philosophy is to take on each project as a unique challenge, and approach it like a work of art. We shape it to be unique, with creative solutions that preserve and celebrate its individuality, without sacrificing the balance of form and function.
WFM: We’re in the era of the ‘iconic buildings’. How do you feel about this trend? How do you work in a system like this and continue to create thoughtful, meaningful architecture?
Anupam De (AD): More often than not, “iconic” buildings are unique in form or super tall buildings, which create a statement. Invariably these buildings push the boundaries of structural design, façade design etc. It is important to understand the costs, challenges to do such structures before one jumps in to do the same. One has seen, on several occasions that after
having set out to do an “iconic” building, one has to cut back and dilute the initial concept due to various reasons.
It is important to understand the brief, context, surroundings, costs etc. and also keep in mind the end user before proposing an “iconic building”. As an architect one needs to educate the client, if required, before embarking on or proposing such a design.
WFM: Please tell us about few of your important projects like Indiabulls Centre?
Anupam De (AD): All the projects are important to us as we put in equal amount of personal attention along with our passion for design that enables unique solutions.
One Indiabulls Centre is a dramatic complex currently comprising of two towers, located strategically in Mumbai’s emerging Central Business District of Lower Parel. It is one of the first projects to be built on the Mill lands
of Mumbai. The project with its dynamic form and architecture integrates function and design to create a landmark commercial development housing the top MNC’s and Indian corporates. The complex is a sustainable design, which tries to conserve energy and other natural resources. One Indiabulls Centre is a “LEED Gold” Certified Building. OIBC also was voted the “Best Commercial Property” by CNBC Awaaz Crisil Credai Real Estate Awards, in 2009.
Indiabulls Finance Centre stands on the site of former Elphinstone Mills on a plot area of 7.8 acres. The project spreads across the site, comprising of three tall towers positioned in a hierarchy ranging from lower to higher as the complex progresses eastwards from the Western entry. The elevation appears as aesthetically appealing composition of varied height towers with triple height terraces forming an interesting assembly. The triple height terraces act as breather in a city that is distant from green spaces. The positive & negative spaces that get created in the façade not only facilitate effective work-space, but also adapts to the need for flexibility in the office space. Various entry-exit points are planned in a systematic manner to ease traffic circulation throughout. Triple height atriums form the entrance lobbies to the office buildings are accessed through landscapes drive-ways & interesting pathways. IFC embodies various facets of sustainable design by being mindful of energy conservation and efficiency maximization. IFC is a “LEED Gold” certified building.
Sky is a luxury residential tower of 48 floors. The tower has a varied mix of apartment sizes from 3 bedroom units to 6 bedroom duplex apartments.
It is spread across 6 acres on Dwarka Expressway just 15 mins drive from IGI Airport (Delhi). The complex consists of high street retail, commercial offices and service apartments. The retail component encompasses three levels of boutiques, charming cafes/ restaurants and a multiplex which are amidst lush landscape and fountains, promoting a tranquil Zen like atmosphere. The commercial component is an office tower which offers varying sizes of units giving full flexibility to the end user. Independent drop offs and circulation are carefully planned for the separate users.
WFM: What kind of projects do you enjoy doing the most? Which project has given you the most satisfaction thus far?
Anupam De (AD): Any project that poses a unique challenge is enjoyable. Usually all urban/city projects provide for this in some way or the other. Looking at each project individually and getting the best possible design solution is always rewarding. It is difficult to pin point one, however One Indiabulls Center, Marathon Futurex, BLU have been up there.
WFM: According to you, what is a Green building? What do you feel is the greatest challenge when it comes to designing for environmental sustainability?
Anupam De (AD): The ideal Green building would allow you to preserve most of the natural environment of the given site while still being able to create a structure for a particular purpose. However, in the urban context it is reduced to the reality of how much lesser damage the building in question does to the environment, than an ordinary building.
The biggest challenge is trying to break the concrete jungle that our cities have turned into. Lack of green spaces needs to be overcome with some innovative urban planning.
Singapore is beginning to usher in a change with its vertical greening of buildings, to bring some respite in the urban jungle.
WFM: Please tell us about designs for façade and fenestration and how important is it considering the ‘workability’ of buildings?
Anupam De (AD): Based on the nature of the building, its design objectives and the end user, one needs to design the appropriate fenestration and façade for the building. Besides the habitable spaces, it is important to factor in treatment of service areas, parking and public areas. At the street level how they blend with the landscape is also of prime importance.
While the awareness of fenestration / façade and its opportunities is quickly growing, equal emphasis needs to be put on serviceability of the same. Often one spends a lot on façade but proper BMU/cleaning systems are lacking, which lead to issues in due course.
WFM: Which architects from the past and present you admire the most?
Anupam De (AD): Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Kahn, Mies van der Rohe to name a few from the past. Their works were way ahead of the times and continue to inspire generations of architects.
The works of Calatrava, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid and many others in recent times have been inspiring.
WFM:Do you think there is an increasingly ‘globalized approach’ to architecture?
Anupam De (AD): Yes. It is the age of the global citizen and the boundaries are fast diminishing. The aspirations of them do influence architecture a great deal.
WFM: What are some of the opportunities and challenges your office faces now?
Anupam De (AD): Today the biggest challenges, especially in large projects, are the myriad of approvals, efficiency in design/cost and timely project completion. These are the main issues facing the construction/real estate industry and in turn the architectural fraternity.
It also is an opportunity for us to strike the right balance and thereby create a niche for yourself in the industry.
WFM: What advice would you give to young architects?
Anupam De (AD): More often than not, younger architects have around the same number of jobs jumped as their years of experience. This trend is very disturbing. They need to carefully select the firm of their liking and stick around long enough to go through full project cycles. Only when you do that can you learn, improve upon and better yourself. There are no short cuts and only hard work will pay in the long run. While hard work cannot guarantee success, every successful architect for sure has put in years of hard work.
Einstein once remarked, “Success is one percent inspiration and ninety nine percent perspiration”.
BLU Estate & Club
BLU Estate & Club is envisaged as an exclusive residential development in the heart of Mumbai, spread over 10 acres of natural expanse. This is to be a flagship development of Indiabulls which end eavours to create a landmark in residential living. In the dense concrete jungle of Mumbai, Blu is intended to introduce a rare concept in lavish living; a serene oasis of declutter.
The design of BLU Estate & Club responds to its fantastic location and scale. Four residential towers that are iconic in form are uniquely complimented with amenities and facilities affiliated to the highest level of luxury. The towers are located to optimize views of the sea and the race-course. All towers were planned taking into consideration optimization
of day-light; the full glass façade allows maximum natural light into all apartments. The central core with perimeter columns and flat slab construction allows for flexibility in layouts and apartment sizing.
All four towers in BLU have a fully unitized glazing system with high performance glass. The glass for BLU has been customized keeping the performance values and aesthetic requirements in mind. This custom glass (with laminated IGU panels) is designed and developed by M/s Saint Gobain for the first time in India. The corners with curved DGU panels are special highlights for the apartments giving a panoramic view.
The track based BMU systems have been designed for cleaning and maintenance of each tower. Services floors have removable performance based louvered panels for access of equipment during maintenance, if required.
The inviting entrance lobbies for each of the towers are double height and with clear glass. The façade system is point fixed with large glass panels, to allow for the interior to blend with the surrounding landscape.
The canopy for tower A and B are designed using perforated metal mesh below the glass so as to filter the natural light. The podiums are cladded
with expanded metal mesh to filter the light and allow for ventilation. Tower C has suspended canopies for drop off with inclined glazing and columns so that people can freely walk under the cantilevered podium.
The canopy for Tower D is specially designed wherein the canopy forms an integral part of the unitized system. The parabolic geometry with its inclined face forms a dramatic entrance.
This structure is a unique amenity built, surrounded by the manicured lawns. The transparent parabolic vault created around the landscape is a standalone glass and steel ribbed structure for events, banqueting, etc. Its spatial beauty is enhanced by a customized installation of a blown glass chandelier, by famed artist ‘Dale Chihuly’
The steel framing was considered to conceptualize the contemporary and slender look of the multipurpose hall..
The entire steel structure has been hoisted at site with modern installation methods to support external glass skin followed by customized stainless steel (SS) fixtures.
This structure is complete and is currently being used as a marketing lounge for the project.
Project: BLU – Estate and club
Location: Worli, Mumbai
Client: M/s. IndiabullsInfraestate
Architect: Anupam De & Associates Design Team: Anupam De, KaustubhTembe, Parag Savla
Structural consultant: Thornton Tomasetti
Façade consultant: BES
Landscape consultant: Belt Collins Materials used for Façade & fenestration: Unitised Curtain Wall, Point fixed glazing, Solid Aluminium cladding, Expanded metal mesh
Commencement Date: 2013
Status: Under construction
Area: 2 Million Sqft
Marathon Futurex, a financial cum- IT Centre in the country’s financial capital, is designed to be at par with similar global developments. Spread over sprawling four acre plot, Marathon Futurex is a unique project expected to witness a total development of 1.6 million lakh sq. ft. in phased manner, to cater the need of generation next office spaces in city’s fastest emerging commercial hub, Lower Parel in Mumbai.
Marathon Futurex, with its unique design, construction, energy efficiency, water efficiency and building management system, is all set to offer an experience of the world-renowned trade centers. It has been designed with the best practices of sustainable architecture and is Pre Certified “LEED – Gold”, Core and Shell.
Marathon Futurex is designed in such a way that its surfaces are shaded from the sun. Its characteristic shape – broad at the top and slimmer towards the bottom – makes self shading possible. The 15 strategically placed sky gardens act as heat barriers, shade the floors below and cool the building and it’s surrounding. Also, the vertical fins deflect the sun-rays and cast a vertical shadow on the building. Even the balconies are designed to contribute to the building’s self-shading feature. Each of the building’s first 13 floors covers an area of approximately 60,000 Sqft from the 14th floor upwards, the area about 30,000 Sqft per floor. Large floor plates with flexibility of breaking into smaller spaces allows for the varied demand in office spaces.
The building also has several amenities to cater to the large work force that will occupy the same. There are 30 high-speed elevators; a car parking that can accommodate over 1,000 cars, a large triple height lobby, and over 15 sky gardens.
The design maximizes the towers presence on the street with its vertical layers symbolizing folded palms pointing towards the sky. These splayed vertical layers divulge beyond a point while rising up to the sky; maximizing its views of the sea and urbanscape. The design includes multiple terrace/sky gardens a concept promoting the need for green spaces in a city devoid of them, besides creating a better working environment.
The various components of the project are outwardly expressed with the use of transparent/ fluid materials like glass, which opens out the elevations presenting the inner working of the facility to the outside. The form helps dissolve and break down the mass, playing with a composition of positive and negative readings in balance with the interspersed voids, within the solid mass.
Marathon Futurex is a pioneer in its exploration of alternative post-modern design and use of steel as a construction technology. The building has been constructed using the formwork’ technology of Sten (Spain) and Peri (Germany). The building has a composite structure using steel floor beams and structural steel plate sections for composite slabs for speedy and cost-effective construction of the building. This steel structure has enabled 16 m spans in the office floor plate besides allowing for increased construction pace.
Perhaps for the first time in India, Shanghai Pilkington, based on the aesthetic and performance requirements, manufactured a customized glass especially for this project, which later on became their standard product globally. This high performance glass is used in Insulated glass panels for energy efficiency.
A jagged glass box, with point fixed glazing, forms a feature entry for the pedestrians. The first phase of the project is complete and operational, while the second phase is under construction.
Project: Marathon Futurex
Location: Lower Parel, Mumbai
Client: M/s Marathon Realty Pvt. Ltd.
Architect: Anupam De & Associates
Design Team: Anupam De, Vivek Vaish Structural Consultant: Sterling Engg. Consultancy Services Pvt. Ltd
Green Building Consultant: Ernst & Young, Mumbai
Façade Consultant: Meinhardt Materials used for façade & fenestration: Unitised curtain wall, Solid Aluminium Cladding, Extruded Aluminium Fins, Point Fixed Glazing
Commencement Date: 2010
Completion Date: Phase I – Completed, Phase II – under construction
Area: 1.6 Million Sqft