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THE FIRM Sustainability Intrinsic to Good Design

Perhaps the only thing that all architects & designers wish is to gain supremacy and popularity through their designing skills and add their names in the list of world's distinguished architects and designers. To achieve this, they strive hard to make their designs more innovative, environment - friendly and sustainable ensuring the betterment of the world. The same perspective has also been practised by Mumbai - based architectural and design practice 'THE FIRM' which believes that sustainability is vital for good designs. Briefing their design philosophy to Maria Rasheeda, THE FIRM shares the details of some of its prestigious projects.

Architecture word comes from the Greek 'arkhitektonike' which means the art and science of designing and constructing buildings and other physical structures for human shelter or use. The primary application of the word "architecture" pertains to the built environment, by extension, the term has come to denote the art and discipline of creating an actual plan of any complex object or system. But nowadays for architects, the word 'architecture' means to convert user's imagination and emotional contents into a form or shape which fully satisfied the clients' belief and rather surpass their expectations.

Earlier architects were responsible to plan, design and review the construction of buildings and structures for the use of clients by the creative organization of materials and components with consideration to mass, space, form, volume, texture, structure, cost, technology etc and achieve an end which is usually functional, economical, practical and often artistic. But today architects are more creative not only in terms of designing the dream project of their clients but also in terms of saving the natural resources. For them, sustainability is important for a good project. This is what the Mumbai - based architectural practice 'THE FIRM' has adopted as their design philosophy to work on.

THE FIRM Sustainability Intrinsic to Good Design
We love to work with the clients who are socially conscious and believe in preserving the natural resources. We work towards a dream, where we will be able to make a remarkable difference towards the betterment of the world around us - Architect Sundeep Gwash

THE FIRM, founded in 1999 by architects Sundeep Gwash and Vishal Shah has today grown to become a well - established, multi - design practice offering architecture, interiors and landscape as core design services. Since 2002, the practice diversified its scope by providing specialized services to media facility industry in India as well as abroad, as a separate focus.

In early 2008, the practice consolidated its global presence by establishing its first international office 'THE FIRM Associates UK Limited' at United Kingdom.

According to architect Sundeep Gwash, Principal, Head - Design & Technology, "Our aim is to become a highly respected design firm, known for its design excellence, great organization and of course, happy clients. We would love to work with well - informed clients, who share our passion for design and innovation." Clients, who are socially conscious and who believe in preserving our natural resources. We work towards a dream, where we will be able to make a remarkable difference towards the betterment of the world around us, he added.

THE FIRM Sustainability Intrinsic to Good Design
Architecture is essentially the users' response, their emotional content, towards the spaces created. Our emphasis on the social dimension is an acknowledgment that architecture is generated by the needs of people - Architect Vishal Shah

Design Philosophy

Responding on the THE FIRM's belief about architecture, architect Vishal Shah, Principal, Head - Finance & Project Management said, "Architecture is essentially the users' response, their emotional content, towards the spaces created. This forms the basis of our philosophy at the practice. Our emphasis on the social dimension is an acknowledgment that architecture is generated by the needs of people."

Elaborating on the design practice, he added, "We look at each project distinctively and base our design concept and solution on its very unique and special conditions. Our functional spaces and buildings balance the cost and benefit factors reasonably. The central concern of our practice is design excellence. We achieve this through active collaboration with clients and architectural specialists."

He added further, "we realize that simply fulfilling the basic functional needs of a project often results in only mundane solutions. But, including the more elusive and less utilitarian aspects, paves the way for higher architectural quality."

Practice

According to Ar. Gwash, "Visualization and graphic presentation is essential for our informed clients, but it is not merely restricted to that purpose. At our practice, this is simply the way to design. It is a norm to make optimal use of graphic tools and software so as to evolve better design, which inherently benefits our creative pursuits and our clients alike," he added.

'THE FIRM' has been honored by the software company 'Autodesk' with the Building Information Modeling (BIM) Experience Award 2007 for leadership, innovation and excellence in implementing BIM.

THE FIRM Cares for spiritual needs of the clients and at the same time also considers sustainability to be intrinsic to good design.

Signature Tower Mumbai

THE FIRM Sustainability Intrinsic to Good Design

Project : Shah Signature

Location : Navi Mumbai

Site : 1800 sqm

Footprint : 825 sqm

Built–up: 13,000 sqm

Clients : Shah Group Projects & Infraprojects Ltd

Architects : THE FIRM

Principal Architects: Sundeep Gwash, Vishal Shah

Project Team : Kedar Dalvi, Trushali Gandre, Chaitali Amin

Sustainability: Deepika Batra Gwash

Category: Commercial

THE FIRM Sustainability Intrinsic to Good Design

Designed by THE FIRM, the project 'Shah Signature' has been an interesting project in terms of its clients' ambitious design brief and the manifestation of the same into a very iconic architecture in the making.

THE FIRM Sustainability Intrinsic to Good Design

The iconic sail form of the building signifies the local context in past and its futuristic bend in present context for the project site located in the twenty - first century city of Navi Mumbai. The form centric design was conceptualized for the project and it appealed instantaneously to the clients.

THE FIRM Sustainability Intrinsic to Good Design

Various options were considered in pre - design stage and the design was finalized on the basis of concept and better energy performance vis-à-vis orientation and form.

A mixed - use highrise commercial building, the 'Signature Tower' comprises offices on the upper floors and the retail shopping activity in the lowers floors and basement. Being situated on a corner plot, the open space on the ground is being well - utilized to act like an open deck for public spill - over from the retail mall - a pleasant change for the crowded vicinity. The ancillary program includes multi - level parking with car lifts and fine - dine restaurants and a gym.

THE FIRM Sustainability Intrinsic to Good Design

The salient features of the design include column - free spaces for offices, the high performance facade offering views and natural light deep into the office floors; and the exclusive roof - top office with the helipad.

The special façade structure is determined to be designed on a grid concept, lending it the two way curve form. The wrap form is also intended to act as an outer layer of building envelope, reducing heat ingress but not daylight; thus minimizing the load on air - conditioning. The form compared with the regular box building is imposing but not unwieldy; and is more appropriate to handle winds at higher levels. The visualization of the curve building façade which was reducing in plan on going higher was done at various stages, till the time the satisfactory outcome was not achieved. The team is currently trying if the unique façade grid could be made parametric so as to accommodate change if the higher FSI is approved by the development control authorities. The structural consultant and MEP consultants are sharing the information from the BIM model in the form of 3d files, to bring out the integrated design in services and structures. The MEP services of the building are defined to be designed to go minimal on energy and water consumptions.

Trinity World School, Mumbai

THE FIRM Sustainability Intrinsic to Good Design

Project : Trinity World School

Location : Navi Mumbai

Site area : 3930 sqm (excluding the playground)

THE FIRM Sustainability Intrinsic to Good Design
Built-up area : 9230 sqm

Clients : NMMC

Architects : THE FIRM

Principal Architects : Sundeep Gwash, Vishal Shah

Project Team : Kedar Dalvi, Trushali Gandre, Chaitali Amin

Sustainability : Deepika Batra Gwash

Category : Educational

Located in Navi Mumbai this educational facility, Trinity World School is designed by THE FIRM for the client NMMC (Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation). According to the client's brief, the facility had to be exemplary in terms of not only its facilities but also its level of design.

THE FIRM Sustainability Intrinsic to Good Design

This facility is designed to provide learning spaces for children from kindergarten to high school, as well as the junior college of arts, science and commerce, and the state - of - the - art auditorium, besides many other activity zones.

THE FIRM Sustainability Intrinsic to Good Design
The courtyard - centric design of the educational architecture focused on creating the ideal environment for learning by lieu of spatial relationships, indoor - outdoor relationships, natural ventilation and daylight and hub - of - activity areas.

THE FIRM Sustainability Intrinsic to Good Design

The building shape is derived to get maximum diffused light into the classrooms, and the resultant smaller footprint also lends more green area on the ground. The atrium brings in natural light to the courtyard and the scene witnesses various changes with the changing sun path during the day. The numerous solar studies at various important sections and courtyards views were being synthesized to improvise the design. The semi - open spaces on each level are intended to capture cross - ventilation, hence increasing the comfort level of the occupants. The micro - climate of the courtyard contributes to the visual appeal, and helps in creating better micro - environment at the same time.

THE FIRM Sustainability Intrinsic to Good Design

The school auditorium is designed to be available for use by the larger community; hence the need for additional facilities goes down; saving costs community - wide and decreasing the environmental impact of the community as a whole.

THE FIRM Sustainability Intrinsic to Good Design

MGS Architecture - September October 2009


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