60-second Interview: Sidhartha Talwar, design principal, Studio Lotus
Studio Lotus and GPL Vikhroli recently collaborated for The Club at The Trees, a luxury clubhouse and community centre in Mumbai. The two teams used the principles of Wabi Sabi and adapted industrial objects as markers of time and place, in order to create an invigorated urban realm, which bridges the public and the private spaces at this approximately 3,303 m2 site.
What design language has been adopted at The Club at The Trees?
The Club is a community centre that marks the second phase of place-making interventions at The Trees to become a natural hub for its residents. The Club’s architectural vocabulary borrows from the industrial site’s rich history — Vikhroli, established in the 1940s as India’s first industrial township, is integral to the Godrej Group’s legacy. The Club builds on the story of Imagine Studio, a project 200 m away and completed by our teams in 2015, that transformed two former co-generation plants, a boiler room, and three chemical silos into a marketing centre. For instance, we invoked the memory of an old glycerine plant with a distinct vault-edged ceiling to develop the multipurpose hall. Similarly, we designed five interconnected, free-standing pods housing multiple functions, by referencing the form of former silos as well as the adjacent mangrove belt.
Describe the material palette that was used and the reasons behind it.
We designed the buildings of the Imagine Studio to express timelessness, through a material palette that will develop a patina over time, highlighting the natural process of ageing. This idea has been extended to The Club, envisioned as a commemorative space, yet future-forward – embodying Godrej’s spirit in its present form while paying homage to its illustrious past. A juxtaposition of concrete, COR-TEN steel, zinc, and timber add their ever-evolving character to the narrative – their relationship with the site strengthening over time as the inhabitants of The Trees layer their own stories onto the site through their shared spaces and experiences. Moreover, the material palette requires minimal maintenance and upkeep, resulting in a reduced carbon footprint over time.
Elaborate on the various features that form a part of this project.
The Club encapsulates not only the structures flanked by the residential towers, but also marks a nexus between the residents and the various activity zones — parks, programmed lobbies, breezeways and streets, and the public art exhibits etc. This integrated ecosystem provides opportunities for social engagement and integration with other uses. We designed the structures to defer to the scale of their surroundings. These silhouettes contrast with the relatively severe geometry of the residential towers and seek to reconnect the residents with the history of the site. We also retained and augmented existing vegetation, so that it became a crucial element in building the narrative of both the natural and built legacy of the site. A green spine of 50 ft tall rain trees, adjacent to the site, establishes the tone for a highly pedestrian-oriented development. The scales, rhythm, shade and dappled light filtering through the foliage creates room for discovery within the landscape. We integrated a series of passive and low-tech climate control mechanisms; 100 percent of the wastewater is treated on-site, and all rainwater is either harvested or used to recharge groundwater. All glazed surfaces are shaded, and the net volume of space needing air-conditioning has been minimised through all circulation spaces being naturally ventilated and shaded to reduce the overall ambient temperature.