The UK-based Lewis and Hickey (L&H) practice opened their India studio in Mumbai in 2007 and after 5 years in operation, their portfolio now includes some of the most diverse projects completed in the region. The Mumbai studio works closely with their London base such that the best of resources are used in conceptualizing, detailing and implementation, utilizing best of international design knowledge and complementing that with locally more well-suited delivery expertise.
Recently, Lewis & Hickey’s Mumbai Studio designed and completed their award winning YMCA International ground-up project in Ahmedabad city which is spread over 6.5 acres in site area. The building itself is 200,000 sq ft of built area. The building consists of several functional amenities on four floors coupled with outdoor amenities like pools, jogging tracks, lawn and terrace garden.
The building stands modest, straightforward and unassuming with clean lines which is such a peaceful relief from anxiety driven statement architecture of angles, waves, impatient punctures or boastfulness of height which is becoming a norm in Mumbai nowadays. So much that the burgeoning buildings feel like they are pleading for our ever-diminishing restless attention span.
The plan of the building itself is simple and meshes outdoor and indoor built spaces such that they are made to interact in an invigorating ways in number of places. Once inside, views of outside don’t seem to be lost. The building appears like a composition of studied elegance of voids and solids attempted to give multi-layered spatial experience. The architecture of YMCA International gives an impression of being inspired from I.M. Pei’s Hartford Seminary building in Connecticut, USA. Calm and unpretentious.
Speaking to Lewis & Hickey’s Mumbai director, Architect Brijesh Kanabar, I posed him a question on leading the project in Ahmedabad from Mumbai as this is something I get asked quite often in the fraternity. He explains: “L&H India is fully equipped and experienced in working on projects outside Mumbai. At present 60-70 % of our work in India is outside Mumbai City.
“The major challenges we faced while working on the YMCA project was to achieve high quality finishing on site during execution. For which we tried maintaining balance between design, execution capabilities and budget constraints through regular site visits and good communication with project management team on site.” He further added: “The Lewis and Hickey London and Mumbai team works very closely in both defining and realizing design concepts for most architecture projects in India. So, the final result for YMCA building is remarkably close to the original concept, where careful attention to detail and finishes has been given.”
This information is extremely useful to many global design practices, as more and more international practices are striving to work in the region where emphasis is to bring better yin and yang of international and local best practices made available in India.
Images Courtesy: Lewis & Hickey