Creating corporate identity
For Kartik Punjabi, designing corporate headquarters offers a certain excitement as it means instant brand recall to consumers
Until few decades ago buildings were conceptualised for specific needs and functions, be it an institutional need, housing or office. As economy boomed the trend moved towards mass construction format, wherein buildings are engineered for common needs and programmes.
The difference between mass construction and tailored design can be compared to the difference between readymade and tailor-made apparel. The need for tailoring buildings arises if the client’s requirement is that of building its headquarters. Designing such tailored buildings necessarily mean that the architectural intent must reflect not only the client’s image but also the corporate identity of the MNC. Corporate cultures vary dynamically in every organisation hence a careful and calculated start in the architectural design process is important.
Over the last few decades our firm has designed several similar projects and have seen the windfall change in styles of design and materials. This plays a very important role and brings experience to the table thus ensuring the client’s project benefits from the library of data.
After the site has been selected by the client and some initial meetings, we are clear on the site statistics which almost plays the most important role in the design process.
We analyse visibility accesses, approach roads, directions, levels if any on the site and, most importantly, the sun movement. The first question we architecturally want to understand from the client is whether this is an iconic architecture, landmark or a corporate identity building. As an iconic architecture overtakes the clients programme it is usually not envisaged for a headquarters building.
The guidelines taken from the client are minimal at this point and extend to floor plate area required per floors, number of floors and car park requirement if any. The challenging part of the exercise begins when the client’s identity is translated to the building form, colour and material.
There is no fixed formula or process we follow but tailor the building to exactly what the client needs it to be. The design team begin research on the client’s business background and the future outlook of the company. We don’t believe any competition is weak. When we design for industry leaders we look at what their competition is doing and how they have visions laid out on their buildings. We also research similar projects the world over and make a list of To Dos and Not to Dos.
As the building designs take shape we start applying formulas we made a list of. These are now translated from 2 Dimension Drawings to 3 Dimension Digital Views that we present to the client with options in style, colour and material. This helps the client give inputs on the options they would like to exercise.
The design of an headquarters building fall under two categories – a greenfield building where the client selects the land and design commences from the foundation onwards. The second category is buildings that need to be redesigned in terms of facade or giving a new lease of life.
Both building types have varied design process to give the desired impact. It’s not unusual for buildings built as headquarters building to demand a change in facade after a few years.
Prajay Engineers Syndicate Ltd, a leading real estate developer in Hyderabad decided to relocate its Marketing & Sales headquarters to Jubilee Hills, one of the busiest locality of Hyderabad namely Gachibowli.
An empty piece of land to be translated into an impactful office facade giving every investor confidence in this rock solid real estate company was the brief. An add-on was to have this 18000 sq ft structure up in three months complete with interiors in another two months. This ruled out conventional structures and we designed a pre-engineered structure on a ground+2 storey with a double height entrance lobby. The facade is modern indicating the company’s futuristic plans.
Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd desired to construct an administration headquarters on its vast land of 300 acres in Mahul (Mumbai) surrounded by its refinery plant. The environment being industrial required a modern looking building that could look the same in years to come. A maintenance-free structure was almost a given, so we used aluminium cladding panels with a combination of glass. A 3-floor space frame made the invitation to this structure almost visible from the entry to the campus main gate. The 3-floor entrance atrium with capsule elevators was intentional and created an ambience of being in a high-end office lobby in any CBD across the world. The building standing today is a 1,50,000 sq ft area fitted out with office interiors. Both the above examples are green field projects. Below we will speak of the existing buildings converted into headquarter buildings.
Neptune Corporate Office at Vikroli, Mumbai – A leading real estate player in Mumbai was looking at a corporate office building to be translated from an industrial building to a modern facade headquarters building. The industrial unit was wrapped with service balconies on all sides.
The redundant balconies were wrapped with architectural louvers in such a way that they did not obstruct the natural ventilation and simultaneously concealed the windows behind. Prominent areas such as the corners were clad in aluminium cladding panels and an extended top to ensure placement of the Neptune logo. The facade was designed extensively on the visible sides and curtailed on some sides blocked by existing buildings.
Canara Bank headquarters at Bangalore. The banks wanted its existing headquarters redesigned and floated a competition to select an architect. VPCPL won the contest for its conceptualisation and ability to change the look of a dilapidated structure. Our designs were based on research of the banks’ rock solid standing in the industry hence we used stone on its facade along with a touch of modernism by using glazing.
The 2 spires on the top indicated its leadership in banking. The simplistic approach bringing out the clients desired image was our winning edge.
From the above it can be understood that whether it’s an existing building needing a facelift or a new building both are equally challenging for architects. The most important part of the challenge remains understanding what the client is looking for and not what the architect wishes to leave behind as a trademark.
Based on the above approach our firm has successfully translated numerous dreams into realities over the past 35 years for multinationals such as IBM, TCS, Satyam Computer Services, Voltas Ltd, Reliance Industries Ltd to name a few.