Excerpt: Vikarna basement, designed by Studio 4000, is a relocation of an architectural studio to the basement by enhancing its experience. The brief also had scope for exploring possible additional uses and values to the marginal spaces of the plot and give expression to the idea of living & working from the same place to the common users. Considering this, the design intervention began by setting aside specific functional requirements to start with; instead an attempt was made to work outwards at general qualities – sky-visibility, natural ventilation, daylight factors – and placeness.
(“Text as submitted by the Architects”)
Project involved relocation of an architectural studio to the basement of an old residence. The brief also had scope for exploring possible additional uses which could be incorporated along with the primary one – enhance the experience of the basement, add value to the marginal spaces of the plot and give expression to the idea of living & working from the same place to the common users.
Considering this, the design intervention began by setting aside specific functional requirements to start with; instead an attempt was made to work outwards at general qualities – sky-visibility, natural ventilation, daylight factors – and placeness. Rather than making cosmetic changes to the poorly lit & ventilated existing basement, major structural & topographical actions were undertaken to create a drastic transformation of the environmental conditions & make a whole new place out of the old.
Foremost, the 15ft wide margin to the front street (flanking the basement along its northern edge) was excavated by half a level. At two steps lower than the floor of the basement within, it formed a sunken, open-to-sky court. A covered staircase and pantry block are inserted along its eastern edge to become the main entry into the studio from outside.
40ft long, load-bearing basement wall along the front marginal space was entirely removed and replaced with circular, hollow section steel columns. This conversion of the basement from a closed off container into a semi-open hall (studio) with a large, cave-like opening formed the major design move.
From inside, the northern half of basement’s floor was lowered to match level with the outer court. With the ceiling line in place, this action formed an overlapping space belonging to both the studio and the outside.
This shared domain is further articulated by provision of sliding glass partitions with telescopic channels. Fully closed, they enforce a clearer reading of the studio & allow it to be air-conditioned during hot summer months. When fully opened out, emphasis shifts to the sunken court and its primacy in holding the studio together. A place for informal discussions, tea-breaks, etc during the working hours, it later serves the family by allowing social gatherings, small music baithaks, etc.
Kota stone flooring from the old basement was dismantled & its pieces, along with other stone wastage from the site was reset with a mosaic pattern into the lower court. Above, edges of the raised portion are framed by polished Kota stone with cast-in-situ red terrazzo in between.
Old bricks from dismantled walls of the basement are reused to make partitions. These are directly painted over, along with other wall surfaces & plywood furniture. Internal doors and windows are made from teakwood frames with glass panels.