Balancing structure and function – WhiteBalance, New Delhi, Studio Bipolar

A 40-year-old pharmaceutical warehouse was turned into a 6000 sq. ft creative office space for WhiteBalance, an international film production collective that conceives and creates films, documentaries and ad films.

This was a project where the architect and clients collaborated throughout, navigating the long bureaucratic process together as well as the design and construction phases. As an architecture practice Studio Bipolar believes strongly in a collaborative approach and are always heartened when the results are as fruitful as this one has been.

It was essential to create a space that was modern and yet had an industrial language which would appeal to the employees of ‘WhiteBalance’ while also serving as a landmark for the rest of the industrial area of New Delhi that true hidden gems reside under the tin sheds of numerous abandoned warehouses, waiting to be adapted into something fresh and off beat.

The WhiteBalance office in Okhla, New Delhi mainly has two parts; one with the formal entryway that accommodates the production team, editing team, creative team and a conference room with 15 ft high windows to let in as much natural light as possible. Another part of the office consists of the informal entry with the multifunctional hall and restrooms.

The existing structure was one of dormant beauty. Be it the angular trusses supporting the asbestos roof, or the 14inch thick exposed brick walls. These were to be the crux for the whole design to follow. A large mezzanine covered almost two thirds of the area and which was demolished entirely to showcase the towering trusses overhead. Another smaller one was built intelligently to provide for maximum viewing angles while not acting as an obstruction.  

An existing 2’ thick wall divided the space even further, and was removed to connect the space horizontally as well as vertically. The concept was a simple one; ‘No Visual obstructions’; ‘One space’. The conference room follows this ‘One space’ principle.

Tucked away under one half of the mezzanine, its doors were made of mild steel angles and glass which could slide out thus making the space larger while providing acoustic privacy if need be. Emphasis was given on providing as much natural light as possible and tall 15-foot-high brick arched windows were made on one side of the workspace to allow for the same. The mezzanine continued from one hall to the other via another arched opening thus overlooking the large multifunctional studio space, which is used for screenings, product shoots or even as a secondary workspace.

The mezzanine itself was used by the executives and thus were treated to the clerestory windows of the saw tooth roof, a part of which were made from scratch but followed the same design language as the existing ones. A part of the roof already existed and the rest was built by the talented team of architects following the original designs. A saw-tooth roof is a series of ridges, where the steep surface is glazed to welcome indirect sunlight. Bespoke pallet wood tables were fabricated to the highest detail to go with the industrial aesthetic and aluminium-back arm chairs were made to stand out in the executive mezzanine.

Adjacent Halls were interconnected through arched entries to create a workspace for the editing team. Right above the private editing suite which is built in shape of a clapboard, there is a cozy sleeping nook for those putting in the long hours till late night.

The area for the creative team had two doors with rolling shutter covers which was turned into unique wall-art to denote the brainstorming sessions and creative ideas taking place in the office. Each door is assigned a positive and a negative charge and they are connected by light fixtures that mimics an electrical circuit; the wall-art indicates the eureka moments when the people come up with new ideas for campaigns and such. The existing mezzanine floors were demolished here and a circular window was built on the outside wall.

When the existing mezzanine floor was demolished the steel-trussed roof was exposed and created an expansive space. The warehouse’s stark white and rugged theme was broken by light fixtures around the office, rectangular windows and doorways were turned into arches. Some arches were accentuated with exposed brick projections to provide respite from the expansive whites and add warmth.

‘This is where I feel most at home, enjoying intellectual, creative points of view and having a pulse on all the ongoing projects.  The energy and vibe of a creative hub is what defines the soul of the organization.  Being in this space helps me to live in the now, yet giving me the vision of what next.’ – Robert Godinho, CEO, WhiteBalance.

Studio Bipolar is a boutique architecture firm founded in 2016 by partners Ujjwal Sagar and Sanjana Mathur. Sanjana and Ujjwal chose to call themselves Studio Bipolar because they think of themselves as “polar opposites”. They like to think of our work as an amalgamation of opposing perspectives as both of them have dissimilar, yet distinctive design aesthetics.
‘We don’t just make things beautiful. We make them work great as well’, Studio Bipolar’s projects include residential, food and beverage and corporate spaces. With an office in Gurgaon, Studio Bipolar has projects throughout the Delhi NCR region, specifically in South Delhi, Gurgaon, Faridabad and Noida.

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