The Loft by Puran Kumar’s Studio PKA is a paragon of timeless, contextual and tactile detailing. Located on the fourth floor of a Victorian heritage building in the heart of South Bombay’s Art District, it is unequivocally the quintessential workspace for an architecture & design practice. The experience rendered here, amidst culture, punctilious materiality and sheer volume, is perhaps best elucidated by the team that inhabits it—it is a space that embodies an inextricable layer of time that revels in its ability to intermingle with disparate components of distinct eras.
I remember the day I first set foot in this majestic workspace two years ago as a novice in the field, having been sent out for the very first time to attend an evening of creative and cultural discourse without the solace of my Managing Editor. I was enraptured as soon as the lift doors opened and I came face to face with what can only be described as a poetic expression of immaculate spatial experiences.
It is evident that a conscious effort has been made to rigorously explore each element that constitutes this workspace, so that the process of ‘peeling away’ layers and exposing the natural character of the space followed simple acts of pausing, taking a couple of steps back and moving forward again—akin to a rhythmic staccato. “The idea of unearthing and discovering, rather than a set mandatory approach, was adopted not only to respect, retain and celebrate the spirit of the place but also respond to the myriad experiences the space could possibly offer. Natural light, ventilation and the objective of utilizing the various vantage points to the fullest were of utmost importance while designing the space,” explained the Studio.
Accentuated by the sheer volume of the space, it’s unapologetic tactility, and the visual connect with its environment (Victoria Terminus to the East, galleries and museums to the South, and sprawling maidans to the West), The Loft elicits an emotional response that evokes interstitial moments of reflection, discovery and presence. Scroll down to read the Studio’s description of the materiality and spatial arrangement.
An atrium, which doubles up as the entrance, is bathed in natural light and houses the reception, a formal meeting room and a vertical backdrop that frames the machine room that sits atop a wooden elevator. Intersecting gabled roofs, along with their structural supports were important contributing factors to the spatial language of the studio. The wooden purlins and rafters as well as the robust trusses clad in metal, have all been stripped and restored to create an emphatic flavour.
Although a formal spatial arrangement exists, transparency allows the various segregations to seamlessly flow into one another–the character thus pervades throughout the facility. A certain charm and thrill of discovery is ever present as the inherited elements spring up as evocative defining characters – the metal sections, the roofs and trusses, the windows and the staircases that act as bridges between separate levels.
The tactility stays true to the raw, unkempt and stark nature of the space by: retaining the inherent character; revealing surfaces beneath superficial layers of paint and plaster; and re-cycling elements such as discarded doors, salvaged from demolished buildings within the city, and breathing new life into them.
Limiting the introduction of new materials, that were lightweight as well as cost effective–cement blocks and boards, wood, hollow metal sections and stone–complements rather than detracts from the essence of the place. Glass, on the other hand, acts as an interesting departure and counterpoint to the roughness of textures that brings forth dimensions of transparency and depth.