Nirmal Lifestyle 2 located in Mumbai is a shopping mall situated in Mulund which is designed architecturally and structurally by one of the famous Indian architects – Hafeez contractor along with the Nirmal group who have a wide range of commercial and residential projects all over Mumbai. The main parking lot of Nirmal Lifestyle mall is now taken by another commercial structure, Discovery offices in the year 2011.

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Architect Hafeez contractor is fond of creating structures that not only had functional values but also included aesthetic qualities in them. Nirmal Lifestyle too was designed in such a manner where both functional, as well as aesthetic importance, was taken care of. His design philosophies in one project differ from every other project of his. While designing the Nirmal Lifestyle, a few factors were taken care of, like site location, site surroundings, clients demand, budget, etc.

Nirmal lifestyle 2 by Hafeez Contractor: Functionality and Aesthetics - Sheet1
Site plan ©Wikimapia.org

Hafeez Contractor always finds the need to have a new approach to designing cities. Looking at the site plan of this complex there is a PVR cinemas multiplex connected to the main building in one corner. The mall comes on the main road close to a junction which makes it a busy street outside. Planning the entry and exit to the mall depends on the site surroundings and the traffic on the site periphery. Nirmal Lifestyle mall has also been selected as one of the green buildings.

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Looking at the exterior of this mall there is a longitudinal path leading to a circular central portion of the mall. The mall is two-storeyed high and has different elevations from different sides which makes it almost look like they are different buildings on every side. The mall is made up of concrete and glass as two of its major materials. 

When seen from the exterior, most of the mall’s skin is made up of glass, over which there are triangular steel sections which form a grid over this glass skin. This steel can be both functional and aesthetic – functional is it protects the glass inside and aesthetic is the design it forms. This skin can be viewed from the interiors of the mall too since the material is glass. 

Nirmal lifestyle 2 by Hafeez Contractor: Functionality and Aesthetics - Sheet2
Exterior view ©Hafeezcontractor.com

Unlike any typical mall which has its interiors covered, this mall actually has a view of the exterior wall from the insides. The glass too has two different tints on it which give different effects inside the building because of sunlight. Both the colours compliment each other from the exteriors too. The triangular grid is designed just like a geodesic domes grid and this is structured on both sides of the glass (both in the interiors as well as exteriors).

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The central circular portion of the mall was being supported by columns all around since its long span. These columns start with concrete at the base and then continue as steel which then spread as three smaller sections to support at the top. Hafeez contractor gives importance both to architectural and structural features of the buildings he designs and includes them as a part of the building’s aesthetics.

The part connecting the linear path to the circular form has a pavilion inside the mall itself. This pavilion consists of two massive columns which then spread into four smaller circular columns. Nirmal Lifestyle is one of the largest malls in India and has many retail shops in it.

Apart from the man-made structures, there are several spots inside the mall on the ground floor where plants and trees have been incorporated. This is a good way to incorporate the existing trees and plants of the site into the design instead of cutting them off. Many architects have already started incorporating this in their design which can also become a sustainable solution. 

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Nirmal lifestyle 2 by Hafeez Contractor: Functionality and Aesthetics - Sheet3
Interior view © Hafeezcontractor.com

Apart from these regular columns, there are various other columns that run around the mall. These columns start as a single column from the base and then split into two for support. For going up and down levels in the mall, escalators and elevators are used. Escalators have been provided at different spots of the mall for ease of access. 

The mall also has an external courtyard with seating spaces. These seating spaces are slabs that are circular in shape and are structured around trees. Trees have been incorporated here again in the design. There are shops outside the mall too that surround this courtyard space.

Nirmal Lifestyle constructions have so many other projects too, which would be of great inspiration. Since this mall is a combination of concepts of both Hafeez contractor and Nirmal Lifestyle, it has a mixture of concepts from both ends. The mall has a very unique design and vibe of its own. If you’re an architecture student or interested in architecture, this place is a must go, especially when it’s designed by one of the famous architects of India.

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Author

Sanjitha Suresh is an architecture student from Bangalore, India. She is aiming to become an Architectural journalist through which she can spread knowledge about architecture and make it understandable even to the common man, rather than having it confined only within the field of architecture.

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