Identiti is an advertising and branding agency run by a father-sons trio who wished to consolidate their home and office in different parts of the city into a spacious live-work unit. By the time we were approached, a building had been purchased for this purpose on a relatively compact 270 sqm site. The existing structure was an archetype of a build to rent style prevalent throughout Kerala with low daylight and even lesser character. Cramped room sizes resulting from a half-baked interpretation of Vastu (traditional Indian system of architecture) made matters worse.
The renovation had to be dramatic to match its energetic occupants. The building was to cater for an office of 20 employees in addition to an expanding joint family. It also needed a look distinct from its neighbours hinting at its mixed-use avatar. We began with an inside out approach carving out the interior to match the space requirements of each floor. The largely column free office on the ground floor proceeding to the parents’ apartment on the first (with a traditional closed kitchen and utility terrace) and finally onto the sons’ open plan apartment on the second. Ferrous oxide walls feature as prominent elements on each floor with built in lighting features. A cement lattice to the east gives visual privacy from close neighbours and filters light to the living spaces. In addition to the walls, a portion of the second floor slab was also demolished to link the two residential floor balconies.
On the exterior, the public/private functions are visually separated by the surface treatment of plaster and colour. A red ochre wall deriving its colour from the company logo wraps around the building setting it apart from its residential surrounding. Large balconies finished in polished cement and spanning two floors jut out towards the front. Inbuilt planters within act as vertical kitchen gardens used to grow creepers and herbs. The building aims an invigorating model for life in a dense urban environment incorporating a variety of spaces and functions.
Location: Kochi, India
Built Area: 3600 Sft
Design Team: Krishnan Varma, Vanessa Meister, Anila Cherian, Sruthi Vijay
Photography: Vishnu Raj