At a time when offices are increasingly polarising, either being monotonous, incandescent and crowded or colourful yet cold with unoptimised spaces, we attempted to meet the balance of form, function and warmth.

ARCHITECT: Tanzeem Sarguroh
PHOTOS BY: Kuber Shah |

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©Kuber Shah

The use of non-natural products is skyrocketing with their innovations and versatility, and the short-term incentives for the end-users to choose natural materials over them are on a steep decline. The reasons may range from inconvenient availability to higher costs.

With 40sqm of space, it was challenging to fit our ambitious requirements that included a powder bathroom, a pantry, some storage, all the workstations and a meeting room/cabin. Additionally, a lounge area for us to just sit and do nothing, an attempt at bringing some hygge to the space.

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©Kuber Shah

With a 13’ high ceiling it was necessary to not go off proportions, especially in small areas such as bathrooms. To maximize the space, the service area is placed over the bathroom and the pantry & storage are placed above the meeting room, minimizing the ground coverage for utilities.

The Mezzanine was a consequence of the limitation of space in the horizontal plane, and copious amounts of it in the vertical one. We were able to delineate a Material Cabinet and a small Pantry flushed along the walls.

The wooden floor space on the mezzanine was marked up for the Zabutons and Chabudai – a Japanese floor table arrangement used for dining, and tea serving doubling as a workbench. This low-height seating arrangement engages the Japanese theory about embracing the tranquillity, stillness, and solitude that sitting close to the ground can achieve.

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A wooden platform was raised adjoining the windows to contrive a merger of the outdoors and the indoors. Building some storage underneath it was simply a functional opportunity seized.

For the room to preserve its airy spaciousness, we designed low-height furniture and let the sunlight flood through the 9ft tall windows unfettered by any obstructions. This also helped the indoor plants to be bathed in sunlight throughout the day. To enable ventilation for the plants during nighttime, we designed a service door with punctures that could be opened and closed as needed.

Another challenge was dealing with indoor toxicity since numerous building materials and furnishings emit indoor pollutants containing Volatile Organic Compounds like acetone, formaldehyde, and butanol deteriorating the health of the inhabitants.

We instead used biobased wall paint and natural oils for wood polishing for indoor finishes. We incorporated galvanised iron instead of PVC for our electrical pipes and stone flooring instead of vitrified tiles.

We were quite specific in choosing the unit number when we purchased it. But did we know that it could be simplified into two straight lines and two circles emphasizing pure abstraction when we bought it? I guess we will never know.

We know that our yearning to reduce everything to the essential forms of lines and shapes extended to our main door. We wanted the inhabitants walking in to know precisely what to expect – tranquillity, design, nature and space.


The irony of simplicity lies in the difficulty in achieving it. Our entire focus was to remove the unnecessary, and more importantly to achieve tranquillity with the simplest shapes nestled in the greenery of the indoor vegetation that binds the space together. A substantial effort went towards decluttering our design and diligently instilling the circular form for serenity and lines for strength across the entire space.

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Wood being the core element of the Japanese-Scandinavian styles, we went into our local markets and stumbled upon old teak wood which we could reclaim as new. This is where the ‘Indian’ came into the Japandi, and a fortunate amalgamation of Japandian was concocted.

With earnest efforts towards embracing Wabi-Sabi, we used the upcycled wood without any inhibitions towards inconsistent patterns, grains, colour variations or even knot and nail holes. We truly came to realise that broken could be beautiful.

Walls are left bare and sparse to emphasize that the space is defined by having only the minimum of essential elements rather than the accumulation of decorative objects. White walls and clutter-free furnishings let in and reflect natural light while allowing air to flow freely throughout the space.

To achieve an unobstructed view of the hills of Sanjay Gandhi National Park from the cabin, the mezzanine was designed to be supported by the ceiling instead of the floor and the glass was held up by studs forming a frameless glass box. This gave us an opportunity to create a cantilevered folded metal staircase leading up to the mezzanine, thus reducing the visual mass that a bulky metal structure generally brings in.

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The risk of exclusively using wood as the primary material is boisterous in nature, especially for us young designers. But we headed in that direction with complete ownership and (personal) investment. We took the risk with the intense belief that we can do better. We challenged ourselves to be a part of the start of a much-needed change in the way humans inhabit their modern shelters and how we can approach the idea of Practical Sustainability.


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