‘Tropical Brutalism’ Comes To Life In This Architect’s Studio in Kochi

  • 24 Jan '23
  • 5:26 pm by Nuriyah Johar

Tucked away in a quaint bylane in Kochi is The Second Home – an architecture studio that embraces the ethos of Tropical Brutalism. The architects at Workers Of Art, led by founders Priya Rose and Rahul Mathew were united in their thinking; for them, the key wasn’t to create an office, but rather, a ‘second home’ where they would be able to spend the majority of their time working, collaborating, and growing. Adopting an open plan layout with thoughtfully positioned workstations, the architects aimed to promote collaboration in harmony, in line with the studio’s philosophy. The biggest highlight, however, is undoubtedly the profusion of green throughout the space. “Greenery is a big part of the design of the office,” says the team. “It is not simply an aesthetic addition, but the greenery is integrated in such a way that it completely transforms and enhances the work experience of the people inside.

The biggest highlight of the interior is the profusion of green throughout the space. Image Credits – Ishita Sitwala

More than a hundred potted plants find their way into the eastern side of the office, along the ferrocement workstations that meander through the shared workspace. The idea of plants as protagonists informs the design of the entire interior. “The plants are all sourced from our ancestral home,” says Rose. They were chosen for their low lighting requirements, low water intake, and some for their air purifying properties. “The studio space is planned favouring views towards the foliage integrated into the workstations, ensuring uninterrupted views and scenes of life and growth,” says the team. “We creatively integrate them in favour of the well-being of the members, to give privacy, elevate the moods by having something that is growing and thriving in front, creating a personal relationship with the surroundings and at the same time providing better quality of air.” In addition, the plants also help in absorbing and canceling out the natural sound of a workday.

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The idea of plants as protagonists informs the design of the entire interior. Image Credits – Ishita Sitwala

The potential to develop the perfect microclimate was leveraged to its maximum, complete with techniques to enable cross ventilation and air circulation. Another outcome of the tropical sensibility was the reduced energy consumption of the office. “We were able to limit the use of the air-conditioning system by creating a microclimate inside the office with the help of air purifying plant species and employing natural ventilation techniques taken from the ones used in a conventional greenhouse,” says the team.

The interior exhibits a rich, tactile material palette comprising cement concrete, high density fibreboard and matte PVD coated MS rods. Image Credits – Ishita Sitwala

In addition to the maximalist arrangement of Philodendron, Syngonium, Snake Plants, and Fan Palms amongst several others, the interior exhibits a rich, tactile material palette. Cement concrete, high density fibreboard and matte PVD coated MS rods were chosen for their versatility, taking various forms through the space. The workstations are made of ferrocement, finished in cement oxide. Cement concrete is also used in the flooring, to fill in the cracks in the old existing tiling. High density fibreboard takes the form of peg boards, lockers, sample drawers, and even a few table tops, finished with a top coat.

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The space features a unique assortment of chairs including replicas of the Chandigarh Chair. Image Credits – Ishita Sitwala

Workspace functionality meets elevated design in an effortless fashion at The Second Home. Apart from ergonomic office chairs from Bosque, the space features a unique assortment of chairs including replicas of the Chandigarh Chair. “The furniture is a bunch of prototypes we have made in collaboration with our artisans and craftsmen,” says Rose. These are interspersed with antique decor elements from Crafters that add a cultural nuance to the interior. Forming the backdrop of the atelier space, the peg board wall is a space of continual change and adaptation as the studio evolves.

The right lighting was a key element in the design process. Image Credits – Ishita Sitwala

Another key element for the Workers of Art team was the right lighting. “Lighting, or more explicitly, shadow play, is what makes a space dynamic, be it brought about by natural light or artificial lighting,” they say. Each fixture in the space was custom fabricated by Spoon Lighting to cater to the changing moods and functionalities of the space. A thick blackout curtain in the studio allows the space to be transformed into a lighting experimentation room fitted with a track system to try various fixtures with different focal lengths and colour temperatures.

The facade of The Second Home. Image Credits – Ishita Sitwala

The creative vision for the space was ultimately driven by a refreshing people-first approach. Flexibility, wellness, and creativity make up the foundation upon which The Second Home is built as a space of work and play.

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