With its imposing and grandiose exterior, its unique concept, and sustainable development, Suzlon One Earth, a magnificent corporate campus is one of the greenest in the world. Located in Pune, India, it perfectly unifies the ideas of the Suzlon group as well as the style of the architect, Christopher Charles Benninger. The campus was inaugurated in 2009.

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Suzlon One Earth ©The Architectural Review
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View ©MGS Architecture
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Christopher Charles Benninger ©Wikipedia

The Suzlon Group is one of the world’s largest players in the field of renewable energy that has made groundbreaking progress when it comes to harnessing sustainable sources of energy. They believe in the concept of integrating their physical workplace to the surrounding nature, which is exactly what they requested for their new headquarters.

The design of Suzlon One Earth is highly inspired by iconic Indian historical sites like Fatehpur Sikri and the Meenakshi Sundareshvara Temple complex in Madurai. These campuses show a clustered form of arrangement with an ingenious play between open and closed spaces. They both have solid, flat components that integrate the complexes and highlight features that emphasize quadrants and sacred places. These campuses of reference also contain water bodies, an idea which was translated to Suzlon One Earth.

The Design Process

The design and construction process began in 2005, Christopher Charles Benninger spearheaded the design process by fixing the core idea of a courtyard-like central gathering space that was open to the sky. It was in the form of a hidden garden that gave the campus an exclusive feel.

The central space is in the form of a garden, which is intensified by streams of water descending in the form of a waterfall that terminates into a pool of water. This large water body in the central court helps in improving the air quality and evaporative cooling.  At the center of this pool is an obelisk accentuated by several lamps, also called a Deepastambha.

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Deepastambha ©A. Ramprasad Naidu

Another iconic feature of this campus is the set of glass chimneys. Three in number, they suck out air from the basements. The Deepastambha, the waterfall and glass chimneys, and the main corporate atrium are all placed in a line and are an important examples of axial arrangement. These act as the focal points of the campus. 

The Corporate Atrium mirrors the idea of the courtyard with an outsized circular encased glass garden from which the grounds water exudes and streams. These elements are some of the few that reflect the idea of a Land Scraper as opposed to a Skyscraper which furthers the idea of a Green Building complex.

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Corporate Atrium with Photovoltaic Panels ©A. Ramprasad Naidu

Features of the Campus

The campus consists of five lounges that act as a link between the inside and outside. One of the most important of these is located in the middle of the Suzlon Excellence Academy, a corporate learning center and is known as the Wind Lounge. The lounge consists of a museum as well as a library. It has a series of photovoltaic panels which allow filtered light in. This light is reflected by a pool at the center of the lounge, which has kund-like steps leading down to it.

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Ground Floor Plan ©https://images.adsttc.com/media/images/52d5/dd20/e8e4/4e52/6900/00cc/large_jpg/SUZLON_Landscape_Plan.jpg?1389747469
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Sections ©ArchDaily

Due to the core objective of the project being to create a metamorphic framework that was all-inclusive and not very specific, the needs of the client changed continuously during the design process. Christopher Charles Benninger achieved this by creating a straightforward system of Served and Servant spaces. 

Most of the area of the campus, the places where people would work, was covered by the Served Spaces. These spaces were in the form of adaptive cold shells that can accommodate modular walls and furniture systems. The Servant spaces, on the other hand, were in the form of rigid cores which house wet areas, utility shafts, ducts, fire stairs, elevators, entry and reception areas that were permanent.

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Work Areas ©Tao Architecture

Since the site is located in a hot and dry climate, Christopher Charles Benninger aimed to utilize natural sources of daylight and ventilation wherever possible. Daylight is let in through Aluminium louvers which also act as a protective skin. The openable fenestrations which are provided in most areas allow for natural cross ventilation. A strategy of increasing the ratio of fenestration to volume was used to improve the natural lighting and ventilation which ultimately resulted in thinner and longer building shapes. The lighting of individual workplaces is constrained by consolidated daylight and occupancy sensors.

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Louvers and Cladding ©A. Ramprasad Naidu

A Zero Energy Project

The campus saves 65% of energy by utilizing LED open-air lighting systems. 8% of the campus’ annual energy is produced nearby through photovoltaic boards and windmills with an absolute gradual expense of about 11%. As 92% of the energy consumed is through the means of sustainable energy, it is considered a Zero Energy Project. Due to these factors, the campus has achieved a Leed Platinum and Teri Griha 5 Star certification. There are no other buildings with this high of a Leed certification.

The world is slowly coming to realize that large corporations need to begin to move into the realm of sustainability and need to design their buildings in a way that is sensitive to the environment. Suzlon One Earth by Christopher Charles Benninger is among those one-of-a-kind projects which reflect the corporation’s values, concerns for the environment, and the image of the new age.

Author

Priyesha is currently a student at RV College of Architecture, Bengaluru. An avid reader with a passion for travelling, she also has a background in public speaking, debating, creative writing and music. She aims to find a good balance between these personal interests and her academic interest in architecture.

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