Romancing a ruin: A retail space, organic cafe, co-working spaces coexisting in harmony  

Romancing a ruin: A retail space, organic cafe, co-working spaces coexisting in harmony  

author_img Bindu Gopal Rao Published :  15th January 2023 06:54 PM   |   Published :   |  15th January 2023 06:54 PM

The idea of spatial composition and participatory space, and what Louis Kahn calls ‘a society of rooms,’ is an approach that renowned architect Bijoy Ramachandran is now adopting. Something that can be seen in his work at the new Go Native store in Bengaluru’s Whitefield–– a space that, ever since its launch last year, has become the talk of the town not just for its unique architecture, but also its assimilated interiors. Here, a retail space, an organic food cafe, conference rooms and co-working spaces all coexist in perfect harmony.

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This was indeed an unusual commission for Ramachandran, principal architect, Hundredhands, and Tanushri Dalmiya, founder and principal architect, Vayam. One, it was their first retail building. Two, it was to be based on the aforementioned design principle that Ramchandran had recently discovered. To top it all, it was for Go Native founder, Anvitha Prashanth, whose commitment to the environment is all too well known by now, thanks to the mindful alternatives to fast and mass-produced items she retails.

The site itself was striking—an old factory ruin. The design, therefore, had to be out of the box. Since the land was leased, not owned, the architects had to think of a light structure, easy to erect and simple to dismantle. “Only a gable end wall of the old factory building and a makeshift office existed when we started work,” recalls Ramachandran, adding, “Then we discovered a beautiful composite wall (stone up to the ground floor level and brick above) while demolishing the office and decided to retain it. Now, it is this feature that sets it apart from all its neighbours along this busy street.”

The building has three parts— the air-conditioned enclosed retail space at the front, a middle section with an open verandah, a waterbody, and two brick buildings, which house all the utilities and services. The rear has two levels of conference/meeting rooms below and co-working spaces above.

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A big part of the interiors was driven by the ethos and values of the brand. Using the invasive weed species lantana, Dalmiya saw an opportunity here to use natural materials and waste in design by twisting them in the form of lights. “We teamed up with a brand called Oorjaa to use these weeds as lights. Wrapped as sticks around a banana paper pendant, lantana took the form of dew drops suspended in a double height volume,” she says.

Clearly, as a space that merges nature in its design and markets natural products only, this is a fine example of a collaboration between many creative ‘green’ minds.