Monday, August 2, 2010

The Mumbai surprise by architect firm Khanna Schultz

Vrinda Khanna and Robert Schultz both graduates of the Yale School of Architecture, are the husband and wife team that make up Khanna Schultz. Based in Brooklyn, New York, the firm works in a variety of cultures and settings. Khanna Schultz has completed projects ranging from private residences to multi-story office towers in locations as diverse as rural India and the New Jersey shore.

They have a special interest in shifting perceptions of scale, both within a building, and between a building and its surroundings. Construction and detailing are a source of inspiration, balanced by a playful sensibility toward form and color. They follow the philosophy, that inventive design must be grounded in a clear and realistic reading of client program, budget, schedule, and site.

Seeking to harmoniously integrate a modern aesthetic into the varied architectural vernaculars of Mumbai, India, the Brooklyn-based firm Khanna Schultz, conceptualized a stacked, seven-unit apartment building for a developer, one that incorporates traditional elements with contemporary approaches.

The perforated aluminum cladding surrounds the lower-level public area, which contains the pools and gym for the tenants. Khanna and Schultz played with the idea of using stainless steel, but found that aluminum had the appropriate strength for the building's needs. "With the lights glowing from inside, it turns the whole building into a big lantern at night," says Schultz.

The entrance leads to an open walkway, sitting area and mail area beneath the open-air public floor of the building.

Somewhat by chance, the apartment building's aluminum core references the perforations of the house next door; its interior breezeways also echo those of the neighboring structure.

The aluminum cladding was left its original silver color; Khanna and Schultz note that it reflects the surrounding colors and can read anywhere in the spectrum from blue to white.

A view from the street reveals the front and side elevations of the building, with somewhat of an architectural refrain of perforations running up the side of the apartments. The balconies, made from a recycled Indian railway hardwood, employ closely linked slats whose gaps widen as they go up, to allow breeze and light in.

Up until recently the neighborhood had been freestanding houses, but the general development in Mumbai means more and more are being replaced with apartment buildings, which keeps the scale of this project pretty small—coconut palm and banyan trees are still taller," says Schultz.

Looking back from the lobby area toward the street; the sidewalk is just beyond the wall at rear. At right is a bench for the residents; at left are the mailboxes, for which Khanna and Schultz chose a bright orange. The pair worked with Forethought Design Consultants on the landscaping, which will eventually grow more lush and provide additional privacy. "In this climate, within a year, it will be completely filled in," says Schultz.
A mirror near the mailboxes in the lobby gives the illusion of more space. A team from Lighting Planners Associates, based in Japan, added the uplights behind the bench for effect. The architectural firm left the ceilings raw concrete to make the space "more enigmatic," says Schultz.

The aluminum casing creates a play of light and shadows as the sun moves across the building. A lap pool, at right, spills over into the main pool

An interplay of geometries in what Khanna calls "the belly of the building." Uplights create new angles of light, raw concrete retains a rough edge and square pool tiles add texture and color while offsetting the perforated circles. The dropped ceiling at right is part of a small balcony overlooking the pools; beneath it is a sitting area.

The owner's apartment, which incorporates a double-height space in some areas, has teak floors, whereas the other units have more industrial concrete floors.

The side elevation of the building shows the seven 2,500-square-foot apartments, including the owner's two-level penthouse apartment, stacked above the common area downstairs.
To find out more about the Khanna Schultz firm and to view more of their projects, please visit

1 comment:

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