Excerpt: Suspended Office is an interior design project executed by the architectural firm DIG Architects. The design attempts to present a solution that was contextual and meaningful rather than merely functional and aesthetic, the new flood-resilient design disregarded the floor for any permanent placement of elements. It centred its strategy on suspension to ensure minimum property damage and data damage.
[Text as submitted by Architect] Mumbai and rains share a complicated love-hate relationship. On the one hand, Mumbaites welcome the downpours as they bring respite from the searing summers that precede the monsoons. On the other, the rains also bring several woes — public transport gone awry, traffic snarls, flooded properties. The latter problem is especially ruinous, destroying individual and collective resources — both tangible and intangible.
This 1200 sq. ft office site, located in a low-lying precinct of suburban Mumbai, was one of those yearly victims of the rains, usually submerged at least twice a year in up to two feet of water. These field conditions shaped the architects’ response to a call for refurbishment for a functional workspace for around 30/35 staff and a training room facility which could be accessed independently by the in-house team and guests. Attempting a present solution that was contextual and meaningful rather than merely functional and aesthetic, the new flood-resilient design disregarded the floor for any permanent placement of elements. It centred its strategy on suspension to ensure minimum property damage and data damage.
This central idea is impactfully articulated as an arm that tethers each legless workstation to the ceiling, giving the project its name — Suspended Office. Colour — a bright yellow — is used on the suspension members to draw attention to them, making them ever-present and assertive markers of their raison d’être and injecting brightness into dreary, rainy days. While the walls and floor of the workspace were seamlessly waterproofed and then cladded with vitrified tiles to the height of 1 mt, the tiles of the training centre were replaced by water resilient carpet, which also bettered the acoustic quality of the space.
Design elements woven into the central ‘suspension’ strategy make the Suspended Office’s visual narrative more exciting and complex. The action, so to speak, is concentrated off the floor, on the upper portion of the volume where the legless, levitating workstations occupy centre stage. The suspension members that connect them to the ceiling ‘bloom’ mid-way into three-armed LED lights, catering to the functional requirement of lighting in an effortless, aesthetic manner. Also, services and materiality contribute to the interior environment in an unpretentious way – the geometry of the electrical conduits and the blue AC vents, in combination with the brown of the marine plywood, grey flooring, and yellow of the suspension members and the floating staircase leading to the upper levels, lend a pleasant graphic flavour to the interior atmosphere.