Alembic Museum, Art studios, Exhibition and Display space.
Alembic Pharmaceuticals first started in 1907 and was conceived as the Alembic Chemical Works Company Limited. They first started manufacturing tinctures and alcohol in the very factory building that needed a transformation a century later.
Category: Re-Furnishment, Transformation, Architecture and Interior
Project Title: Alembic Museum at Alembic City Art District
Location: Vadodara, Gujarat, India.
Completion Year: March 2019
Site Area: 2 acres
Built Up Area: 1200 square meters
Principal Architect: Ar. Ishan Grover, KGA
Masterplan: Ar. Shyam Khandekar, ICONS NL
MEPF: Artech Engineering Solutions
Structure: Mr. Ashutosh Desai
Landscape Architect: Ms. Subhagaya Raval, Lanarch
Photo Credits: Ms. Esha Daftari
Mr. Udit Amin, a friend and the President Operations Alembic, gave me the responsibility of transforming 5 separate factory buildings into one cohesive unit with a complexity of programs within. The project began in 2016 and we opened in 2019.
Similar to many old industrial sheds, various products have been manufactured within these walls and have left their indelible imprint. Today, the building houses artists’ studios, an exhibition space, multipurpose space and the Alembic Museum also known as Phase I of the masterplan.
Our architectural purpose was to approach this as a sculptural element which had a certain beauty in its flaws, from half broken walls to rusted steel embedded in floors. We were clear from the very beginning that it was crucial to maintain the true spirit of the building in terms of materials and the physical quality of the space.
In order to respect the status quo of the architecture of the existing buildings, we began with developing measured drawings. These drawings started to reveal different patterns and connections. For instance, it come to notice that, in plan the, the 1200 sq. mt was spread between 5 buildings each divided by the load bearing walls. Our first step was to create a logical circulation path. These paths were defined as the X and Y axis (arched corridor). By applying this simple method, we were able to begin with identifying different programs.
The requirements included 8 studio spaces for artists. These spaces were given lintel height partition walls which were painted white without any plaster, giving it an unfinished look. Further, the existing building is characterized of arches, which were blocked over the last few years. We strategically opened up as many arches while considering the stability of the structure. It was possible to make these changes as the thickness of the main load-bearing walls averaged at 0.45m and in addition provided the interior with excellent thermal insulation, keeping the interior ambient temperature at cool 22°C.
The main space, the multipurpose room, was left as it existed, exposed brick with chipped off plaster. In order to keep the wall intact and preserve it for 15-20 years, we first cleaned some of the plaster with a high-pressure water jet and then applied silicon coating for protection.
Another major architectural element is the design of the roof. There are a few structural details that caught our eye. The trusses are rivetted as opposed to being welded. The detail of the riveted trusses, is dare I say, riveting. Fortunate for us many of the trusses are in great condition. Only a handful of the trusses will require strengthening. The existing exterior roof material is of Mangalore tiles. These terracotta tiles are battered and will have to be removed. New Mangalore tiles will be installed with added insulation above the top-chord of the truss. We are very keen to leave the purlins and rafters exposed to express the quality of the structure that it once was.
The Alembic factory is located in the middle of the city and along the main railway line of the city of Baroda. The re-development of the industrial area will see major interventions in other parts of the campus.
List of Materials:
Cement Mangalore Tiles
Insulation Roof Panels
M.S. Doors and Windows
Suspended Track light
Mirror and Single Polish Kota stone flooring
Profile of Firm
Our architectural journey began in 1985 in the beautiful city of Baroda, Gujarat. With a keen interest and passion in India’s rich traditional practices of building and construction, we have become the pioneers in sustainable design. Today, 36 years on, Karan Grover and Associates is a team of young and dynamic architects, engineers and draftsmen with a vision of enhancing future sustainable goals. KGA recognizes the challenges of an ever-changing field of architecture and design with the inclusion of BIM, VR and other efficient design processes that enable a seamless work-flow. Our architecture is deeply rooted in celebrating our past with the help of contemporary technologies. Our architecture responds to its site and its people eventually resulting in enriching peoples lives.
Ar. Grover won accolades in India and internationally. One of the real show stopping recognition of his works was being appointed Permanent Honorary Fellow of the National Academy of Environment at the hands of former President Dr. Abdul Kalam. He single handedly, after a 22-year old campaign, won India the nomination for UNESCO’s World Heritage Site status for Champaner..
“Architecture is about the place, rooted in its context and culture.”