The dome and the interiors
Sunlight filters in through the double-glazed glass skin of the dome, casting webs of tinted blue across the interiors. This almost spherical structure, called a geodesic dome, has a diameter of about 52m, and is constructed of a network of struts (tubular pipes, in this case of mild steel) which form an open framework of triangles and polygons.
A geodesic dome becomes proportionally stronger as its size increases. About 40-odd panels in this one can be unlatched and opened, in the event of an emergency or to facilitate cleaning. Such a dome also offers, by its very nature, an almost disproportionately large volume of internal space in relation to its lightweight external frame.
“By the time we were called in, the basic structure and most of the dome was already in place,” says Killawala. “The interior architecture that was required of us posed quite a challenge, as enclosed space makes work difficult and this was a complex structure spread over almost 60,000 sq. ft.”
The almost all-white palette was a deliberate decision, and is a departure from the deep, dark colours that normally infuse such spaces, but Killawala says that “Nothing could set off the dome better. It’s a very fluid space and white enhances the play of shadows created from light through the glass panels.” Matt-white aluminium composite panels, which have been used as cladding for pillars and some walls, enable the light filtering into the building to be played out in different patterns through the day. In contrast, the mosaic chip floor is in distinct shades of purple, turquoise and blue.
The panels can also be installed very quickly—an important factor as there was a time constraint—and are low on maintenance. Optimal use of space extends to even seemingly mundane things such as utility pipes or firefighting equipment.
An 8-9ft water body (not in the photographs) had already been envisaged as part of the landscape. It almost encircles the structure and creates from a distance, says the architect, “the illusion that it’s floating. Along the water body are two entry points—one from the main road and the other from an adjoining complex”.
“Infosys places great importance on facilities for the physically challenged. So there are ramps, specially designed lifts and toilets for easy access,” says Killawala.
The main auditorium
Infosys had specific plans for the auditorium complex. The brief was for four halls— three small and one large—which could also be used for seminars and conferences. Acoustic requirements made dead walls (they have no openings) mandatory, “but we tried to diffuse this effect by reinforcing the contrast with the aluminium panels mentioned earlier,” says Killawala.
Double-height lobbies act as transition areas between the sunlight-filled spaces in the dome and the darkness of the auditoriums. The three halls at ground level can each seat 250 and are done in a different primary colour. The largest, a 1,200-seater on the top-most level, has acoustic panels in locally sourced teak and specially designed chairs imported from China. There are projection rooms, green rooms, drop panels and side wings. All the lighting and acoustic work was outsourced. A large food court adjoins this complex.
Project: Infosys Dome, Mysore
Area: 60,000 sq. ft
Interior Architecture: Nitin Killawala & Associates, Mumbai
Architects/Structure: M. Karthik, Shobha Developers, Bangalore
Acoustics: Parimal Mehta, Mumbai
Glass Dome: Geodesic Dome Co., Bangalore
Materials: Silver (for free- standing pillars) and matt-white (some walls) aluminium composite panels
Flooring: Vyara Tiles, Surat
Flame-finished granite for the stairs with railings in mild steel