The concept for the 12,000 sq. ft showroom emerged from a simple brief. Architects Ahmed and Tharani were told by the client: “Car showrooms are inevitably ‘parking lots’. Just give us a nice backdrop for the product.”
“Normally, retail spaces are all about the show windows. But, we were told not to bother with design, except for a backdrop in the reception area,” laughs Ahmed. The “open” site, with its nondescript front and rear against Kozhikode’s main thoroughfare, posed a unique architectural challenge. Creating a showroom for 360-degree viewing was tough as the main entrance didn’t face the road.
“We figured that the design needed a fluid element—something that would complement the flux on the road,” explains Ahmed. They used a “wrap” concept (in which the boundaries between floor, ceilings and walls are unified) to maximize a 60m frontage. The design concept was also a radical departure from the norm for a small town.
Accessories are showcased in circular niches and free form shelves
The client (Hyundai) had strict design and colour scheme guidelines. While the architects adhered to the corporate colours, “we skirted around a few of the design rules. The initial presentation got the dealer’s nod, and though Hyundai’s review board didn’t appear too keen, they let it pass. I guess they saw something in the design,” says Tharani.
The main display area is divided into three segments that house the various models of the brand—premium, mid-range and budget cars. Light strips on the floor were coordinated with overhead lighting and graphic elements to highlight the models on display and to bring a sense of dynamism to the space.
From the main reception area, visitors can see the strategically positioned, glass-walled accessories section to the left. A curved partition sections off the customer care centre on the right—this has a separate reception. The “wrap”, where the main display area lies, is further in. A sloping alcove that forms the backdrop for the reception extends to become the canopy over the main entrance. There is an additional entry through which the cars enter and exit.
Other areas include customer lounges, customer service desks that are suspended on a channel from the ceiling and the back office, all held together by the “wrap” concept.
A little more than a year since the opening, “the feedback we get is that the design has worked well, retailing is becoming more proactive, and with it, the importance of creating a space that encourages clients to browse and of course, buy!” says Ahmed. “Having a client who was willing to go along with an unconventional design, and that too for a showroom in a small town like Kozhikode, helped in no small measure,” adds Tharani.
Wrap 4, as the project is called, has received a couple of national design awards and an honourable mention at the Biennial Miami 2007 international awards.
1.Light strips on the floor are coordinated with overhead lighting to give prominence to the display. Additional white graphic strips complement the basic design.
2. The cantilevered steps are custom-fabricated and three-dimensionally profiled, to take the load. Unlike standard stairways, the only support here is a rod that runs from the floor to the ceiling. The stairway leads to the mezzanine, which will house the support office in the second phase of the design.
3. The service interface and customer service areas.
4. The furniture in the lounge area has the same lines and curves that define the rest of the space.
Photographs by Ajeeb Komachi. Text by Gretchen Ferrao
(Brought to you by Better Interiors)
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