INDIA DESIGN ID 2024: FEB 7-12, 2024, NSIC GROUNDS, OKHLA, NEW DELHI
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INDIA DESIGN ID 2024 | 15-18 FEB, 2024 | NSIC GROUNDS, OKHLA, NEW DELHI

Home > The Library at the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai is Reimagined as a Forest

The Library at the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai is Reimagined as a Forest

Studio Hinge revamps the indoor library with ideas drawn heavily from nature

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Location: Mumbai
Size: 420 sq.m. (4500 sq.ft.)
Design firm: Studio Hinge
Principal designers: Pravir Sethi, Chintan Zalavadiya
Photography: Suryan + Dang
Lighting Design: Studio TRACE, Tripti Sahni

When the venerable Cricket Club of India, functioning since 1938, approached Pravir Sethi, founder of Mumbai-based Studio Hinge to revamp their library, it was proposed to be in a ground floor structure with access to outdoor space. But eventually the library was given its permanent home on the fourth floor of the admin building of the club. As a result, Sethi had to reimagine the initially proposed plan that was to include outdoor reading spaces and landscaped gardens, to a fully indoors space.

The labyrinth-like library built with sustainable materials
The labyrinth-like library built with sustainable materials
A cylindrical pod bookcase serves as the main reception whilst screening off the admin area from visitors.
A cylindrical pod bookcase serves as the main reception whilst screening off the admin area from visitors.

The principal material used for the library is timber, with the windows in yellow cedar and the furniture in Western Hemlock. Sethi says, “In India it is very difficult to find native species which are sustainably harvested, so we used timber from FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) sources.”

He goes on to explain, “On a conceptual level, the design draws from nature, in particular the notion of sitting under a tree with a book; we also borrowed heavily from the beautiful canopy formed by the Ficus and Gulmohar trees found in the adjacent street.”

The existing concrete columns have been transformed into tree-like structures, featuring circular bookshelves made of Western Hemlock that are supported by arched branches. The branches themselves are inspired by the geometry of the pavilion’s colonnade along the cricket ground; constructed with timber, they are clad over square hollow box sections in steel that also serve as conduits for electrical wiring. The intertwining branches overhead create intricately woven canopies “recreating the sense of walking under trees with dappled light filtering through canopies above”, as Sethi explains. The custom terrazzo flooring, embedded with marble and green glass chips, forms abstract patterns reminiscent of fallen leaves. 

Concrete columns are camouflaged with steel frames covered with wooden planks.
Concrete columns are camouflaged with steel frames covered with wooden planks.

Surrounding the central trees are freestanding circular bookshelves arranged in hedge-like patterns, none of which exceed 1.2 metres in height, thus ensuring natural light is not blocked out. The library is scattered with easy chairs and benches by the windows for cosy reading sessions. Existing windows have been enlarged which achieves the dual purpose of increasing natural light and ventilation, reducing the reliance upon artificial light and mechanical ventilation. The enlarged windows face east and north, optimising light and avoiding the harsh glare of the south west.

 

The space is dotted with reading nooks affording comfort and privacy.

The space is dotted with reading nooks affording comfort and privacy.
The space is dotted with reading nooks affording comfort and privacy.

Keeping in mind the role of a library in the digital age, the space needed to be more than its conventional definition – it needed to provide opportunities for people to come together, interact and learn. This meant activating the space for the exchange of ideas through activities such as book readings, discussion groups, workshops, film screenings, etc. The circular mobile shelves could be redeployed as partitions to create semi-enclosed spaces that would facilitate these activities, providing a layout that is flexible to suit various future usage patterns.

Wide windows, ample storage and an undulating ceiling in the redesigned studio.
Wide windows, ample storage and an undulating ceiling in the redesigned studio.

An adjacent space, formerly a Zumba studio, was turned into a multi-purpose room, redesigned in a way that allows it to revert to a dance studio when needed. Engineered oak flooring, flush mirrored cupboards that house the books not on display, storage for stacking furniture, and a large screen TV, all sit under a ceiling of undulating timber slats that speak of dance, whilst concealing MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) conduits overhead.

 

Story by Vinita Kunnath

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