Built on Trust
At the awards ceremony held during the Festival of Interiors organized by the Institute of Indian Interior Designers in Mumbai last month, winner of the Designer of the Year award architect Ravi Sarangan dedicated the honour to the “creative genius and enterprise of the entire team of Edifice” – a design consultancy he founded 22 years ago along with architect Sanjay Srinivasan.
From a 60-man firm, Edifice Consultants Pvt. Ltd. (ECPL) has grown into one of India’s premiere design firms, with eight project centres across the country. While Ramji Sarangan, director, business development, expresses pride at ECPL receiving the award, he adds that “honours and awards have never been benchmarks for EPCL’s success; rather, it is the client needs that have to be fulfilled and exceeded where possible.”
At a time when architectural firms from abroad are being brought in by companies for projects in India, ECPL has been invited by its clients to extend design services for their overseas projects. Having worked with the who’s who of the corporate industry, it is also one of the few Indian architectural design consultancy firms to have a voluntary sustainability initiative in place to guide its endeavours. “Eight of our projects are going in for a Gold/Platinum Green LEED rating in India,” discloses a company source.
ECPL recognized the importance of introducing an organized approach in a disorganized industry, and became the first architectural design consultancy firm in India to be ISO 9001-2000 certified and have all its processes decentralized, similar to global architecture firms. Says founder director Ravi Sarangan: “What we have done is to get the highest levels of transparency within the system. We are an extension of the client because they can trust us completely – so our entire brand has been built on trust.”
The company has tied up with international design firms including HOK, SOM, Perkins & Wills and WATG for sector-specific projects. This strategy, they maintain, works because it helps ECPL develop international design sensibilities and it also clinches clients abroad.
The design approach of ECPL is to achieve the most ideal design solutions possible without compromising functionality; to satisfy requirements to the greatest extent possible: the head counts, areas, adjacencies and ambience of the space as desired by the client; and to infuse creativity and lateral thinking in order to achieve design innovation within the confines of the brief.
It is these parameters that have helped the company retain clients like Infosys, for whom they have designed 12 offices in various cities in India, China and the UK.
ECPL’s expertise lies in strong zoning principles that ensure clear circulation, maximum natural light and an open look. The designers experiment with alternate materials and finishes, pushing the design to give every client a unique and different work space. Their design philosophy lies in “combining aesthetic perception and technological progress”.
Indeed, innovation is the concept that defines their work and is a key to their success. One of their most laudable initiatives is the environment-friendly attempt to use artificial light and natural sunlight to reduce the glare on computers, essential for IT/ ITES projects as apparent in the offices of Cap Gemini Consulting India Ltd, and Tata Teleservices, Mumbai.
Rather than make enclosed spaces claustrophobic, their buildings are designed to obscure the edges between exterior and interior as seen in the Tata Consultancy Services office buildings in Chennai, Mumbai and Hyderabad that demonstrate striking design features on the exterior with a fine balance between space efficiency and privacy inside.
ECPL has designed more than 70 million sq ft of office spaces mainly in the IT/ITES industry, but their portfolio also includes projects in hospitality, retail and banking. They try to improve the quality of work areas in their projects and create energy-efficient zones at no extra capital cost, a fine example being the building of Vodafone Ltd, in Mumbai – where the staff can work with natural light practically throughout the day and the ground-up air-conditioning ducting has ensured a clutter-free ceiling that facilitates openness.
The company’s design goal strives towards creating: (a) Efficient Design marked by high levels of space utilization, minimal and efficient circulation, maintainability and energy efficiency through proper orientation, placement of spaces, and in design of the services and management systems; (b) Distinctive Design symbolizing a unique product shaped as a response to the site conditions and client’s requirement rather than the designer’s style; (c) Timeless Design by using pure forms based on function, requirements and judicious display of structural materials to infuse character; and (d) Practical Design by employing readily available, maintainable, easily workable materials and designs that do not demand high levels of precision or controlled conditions for execution. “During the design process we consider not only the capital cost, but also the lifecycle cost,” explains Ravi Sarangan.
ECPL has been forward-looking in realizing the potential of collaborating with international architectural firms. Rather than competing with them, they view it as an opportunity to expose themselves to different schools of design thought, technology, systems and materials.
ECPL believes in delivering cutting-edge and sustainable design solutions for every project through national and internationally-compliant processes and systems. So, it should come as no surprise that the organization dreamed of by Ravi Sarangan has not only kept pace with global architectural developments but also wins awards for doing so.