In the year 2016, UDRI commissioned Rohan Chavan Architects to renovate the resource centre.
Located at Kala Ghoda, the address of the resource centre is strategic to its intention and content. It is situated in the heart of the fabric that UDRI wishes to document and restore. Upon opening the door to the terrace, the famous Rajabai tower along with the skyline of the Fort Area reflects on the glass shutters of the centre’s bookshelves. This gesture subtly ties the resource centre with its surroundings. Like a borrowed landscape, the image of the skyline finds its way into the space lending it a stoic backdrop.
Rohan Chavan, the principal designer of RC Architects, had several considerations while selecting the material palette for the renovation of the 3100 sq ft space. “Easy accessibility for users, a fresh look and ease of maintenance were of prime importance,” he said. The palette was, thus, divided into different components based on the function and surface on which the material was to be applied.
The layout of the original resource centre had to be modified in order to house a greater number of books as well as to enable transformation into an event space. For this purpose, walls made of ply partitions were put up which define the scale and proportion of the space. Based on circulation pattern and aesthetic appeal, these walls were painted in a combination of white and orange.
The floors of the resource centre are covered uniformly in grey epoxy. “The benefits of this gesture are two-fold. Firstly, the seamless nature of the flooring allows the space to feel larger than it is. Secondly, the dirt saturation that is common in tiled flooring is avoided, and sweeping and mopping become easier,” says Rohan.
Because the primary function of the resource centre is to house research material, ample focus went into the design of the bookshelves. The shutters of the bookshelves are conceived in 25mm thick aluminium channels with 8mm thick toughened glass in-fils. The shelves themselves are built out of 10mm thick toughened glass, the purpose of the thicker glass being to hold the weight of the books. “We have used thin aluminium sections so that one can easily see the books inside. At the same time, the shelves are lockable ensuring safety of the books,” says Rohan.
In terms of the shell of the space, the original structure has been preserved. “We restored the existing wooden trusses to their true finish in order to retain the old characteristic and charm,” says Rohan. The intervention at RRC is simple and elegant. The aesthetics work hand in hand with the functionality of the space, ensuring that the UDRI vision is never overshadowed.