Corporate Cool

HDFC ERGO General Insurance’s office in Mumbai takes a departure from clinical corporate spaces. Created by architect Ninad Tipnis of JTCPL Designs, it not only fosters productivity and ease of functionality within its walls but also gives equal importance to maintaining a youthful and vibrant atmosphere.

Text: Alifiya Mehamdabadwala
Photographs: courtesy JTCPL Designs

A view of the reception from the outside. From this spot, the office deceptively looks like just another cookie cutter corporate space, though it is not — it is accommodated in what was earlier the play zone of a mall.

HDFC ERGO General Insurance and architectural firm JTCPL Designs have a long association, having collaborated on many of their offices in the past. So, when it came to their new office at Bhandup in Mumbai, they once again called upon architect Ninad Tipnis. The proposed service centre facility spread over an area of 40,000 sq ft was to have complete in-bound and out-bound call centres, training rooms, meeting rooms, workstations, cubicles for middle management, cabins and a fully functional cafeteria. There was also a requirement for ancillary critical functions such as server rooms, electrical rooms, a control room, BMS, etc. Since the population of the facility was young and energetic individuals with an intense and demanding work life, Ninad was posed with the task of designing a space with an invigorating environment.

One of the biggest challenges for Ninad and his team was the structure of the building, which had previously been converted from a children’s play zone of an erstwhile mall to a much formal workspace. The dome had been converted to a flat slab using a metal frame. Also, most of the columns and beams were not aligned and had to be cleverly enveloped so as to not look haphazard. After thoroughly studying and understanding the skeleton of the space, such as the location of plumbing ducts, LV/ HV shafts, fire exits, the position of the external facade, etc, Ninad chalked out a plan that used these fixed parameters as guidelines for the zoning. The toilets were planned near the wet shafts, and critical spaces such as the server, electrical and UPS rooms were placed closer to the LV/HV shafts, while also being centrally located to minimize the lengths of the cable. The alternative exits were used as secondary or service entries.

The call centre area with rows of workstations. Splashes of yellow and green patches on the pillars break the muted tones of grey in the call centre area.

Considering that a large section of the office would function as a call centre, the acoustics were modified with appropriate fabric panelling with a theme based colour scheme. A cafe was also planned in between both call centres which would double as a social hub to encourage collaboration and idea sharing. “We also added an element of greenery to make the space more pleasing to the eye,” elaborates Ninad. Some furniture was factory made, while the client’s existing furniture was repurposed by matching the substrates and changing upholstery.

While the aesthetics were important, the key aspect of the design was a perfectly functional layout — the facility had to work like a well-oiled machine. With the dense number of workstations required, the challenge was to carve out spaces that allowed the staff to relax provided visual relief. “The client, Samir Barve, and his team were completely involved in the design and execution process. They not only came up with ideas but also encouraged us to push the boundaries,” says Ninad. The layouts therefore went through a series of refinements as they were vetted by the IT, operations, facility and CRES teams, before they could be executed.

A breakout area in the passageway which can also be utilized by small groups for meetings and discussions.

Since the office is spread out across a single large rectangular space, various colour schemes have been used in strategic pockets to demarcate different areas, while keeping them fluid. The youthfulness of the space is further accentuated by 3D graphics, while spurts of green (read plants) add vitality. A well-planned and executed spatial layout in combination with lively, youthful and green material palette and design, JTCPL was successful in creating a completely functional as well as aesthetically pleasing office space.

CONCEPT
To design a corporate office with a young and vibrant disposition, and which meets the requirements of various divisions.

MATERIALS
Floor: Italian Marble for the reception, vitrified tiles for high traffic areas such as passages, carpet tile flooring for the open office, ceramic tiles for the cafeteria and washrooms.
Storage in main workstation area: Stone and wood veneers
Walls: Acrylic emulsion paint, wallpaper, graphics and vinyl films
Panelling: Back painted glass, fabric, gypsum board

FACT FILE
Project: HDFC ERGO General Insurance office
Location: Bhandup West, Mumbai
Area: 40,000 sq ft
Principal architect: Ninad Tipnis
Design team: Vipul Tapke