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A walk in the woods

A walk in the woods
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First Published: Thu, Apr 29 2010. 12 30 AM IST

Dark and deep: The Woodwalk studio in New Delhi  Andre Fanthome/Vir Mueller Architects
Dark and deep: The Woodwalk studio in New Delhi Andre Fanthome/Vir Mueller Architects
Updated: Thu, Apr 29 2010. 06 01 PM IST
It defies all conventional ideas of what a showroom must look like, thereby opening itself up to unusual possibilities. Designed to showcase wooden flooring, the Woodwalk studio on the main street of the busy Kotla hardware market, New Delhi, is an oasis of calm, devoid of the usual paraphernalia (desks, chairs, wooden boards) associated with a showroom whose sole purpose is to hawk and display “goods”.
When owner Manish Gulati approached Vir Mueller Architects to convert his 925 sq. ft space into a showroom, he had only two prerequisites: It had to be done within Rs15 lakh, and he wanted them to try and use the strips of scrap ipe and purpleheart wood he had left over from his business of wooden floor decking.
Dark and deep: The Woodwalk studio in New Delhi Andre Fanthome/Vir Mueller Architects
That is what excited architects Pankaj Vir Gupta and Christine Mueller Gupta, of Vir Mueller Architects, who set out to create an “interior installation” within the space instead of a conventional showroom. “We decided to create an independent structure by laminating lengths of the purpleheart lumber to create primary frames—these were erected like a tent structure and create an undulating wall and ceiling,” says Pankaj.
A walk through the long and narrow room, with a sprinkling of light filtering through the pleated pattern that the wood strips create on the ceiling, makes you feel as if you’re walking through a forest instead of being just a few feet away from one of the busiest areas in New Delhi.
The other interesting aspect is that there is no in-your-face display of scores of wooden boards. All samples are placed on shelves behind beautifully crafted, sliding, panel-like doors that once again have strips of scrap wood framed in hot-rolled industrial steel plate panels. “Our entire design has been based on the dimension of the scrap strips (approx. 1 inch). Each strip was slightly different from every other in width and thickness, so we decided to laminate them on commercial plywood to create sliding doors and panels for storage along the walls,” says Pankaj.
With a verbal agreement in place with Gulati, Pankaj hopes this “blank space” will be more than just a showroom. “We want to make this a public space where people can hold book readings, art exhibitions, music recitals. Of course, all this subject to a time slot that is convenient for Manish and outside the working hours of the market.” Pankaj says Woodwalk might just help a larger audience in Delhi appreciate the “tactile quality of (an) all-wood chamber”.
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First Published: Thu, Apr 29 2010. 12 30 AM IST