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Written and Contributed by

Studio PKA
Mumbai, Maharashtra



The project is an adaptive re-use of old and defunct space within the heritage precinct, that could effectively rekindle a tryst with the past. The brand – a furniture retail outlet – sought to relocate from their existing setup to a new store that would be conducive to their sensibilities, as furniture designers, art connoisseurs and deep admirers of architecture and heritage of the city. 

What is the project about?

Nestled in a corner, on the ground floor of a Victorian Era building in Ballard Estate – the original Central Business District – ‘The Revival Project’ speaks of a desire to recover and respect the past – an ode to architectural heritage in Mumbai.

The space was acquired with a large double-height open floor plate, interjected by a low height mezzanine, boarded up arched fenestrations and devoid of a connection with the street. The project was seen as an opportunity to effectively refurbish a space within a heritage structure – which not only saves space and is economically viable but also recognizes the importance of conserving the remnants of a bygone era. In order to make the space habitable the windows were opened up, the partitions removed, and necessary retrofitting was carried out to ensure structural stability. 

The frontage on the other hand was designed to not only entice visitors and prospective customers but also activate the street by virtually acting as an extension of the pavement outside – through the wood and glass vestibule that juts inwards and allows elements of the store to percolate out. A level difference in the form of steps invites the user and leads them to the entrance – the vestibule – from where the open floor plate flows and acts as the main retail space which extends up to the cabin at the far end of the store. 

While a hierarchy of spaces exists, a conscious effort was made for it to be kept to a bare minimum – spaces flow into each other with transitions highlighted either by way of textural and tonal variations in flooring material or semi-permeable partitions. A screen – below the mezzanine – segregates the retail space in two and instantly suggests a division. Conceptualized as a flexible intervention, the cement board partition acts as a backdrop for art and furniture as well as blocks or allows visual access to and from the entrance of the store by way of louvres.  

The interplay of levels within a heritage structure adds to the character of the space – an insert that breaks the homogeneity of a single plane. 

A staircase leads up to the mezzanine level which is reserved as the workspace for the in-house design team. Taking cues from the existing structure, the steel girders act as clear demarcations between each zone – dividing the mezzanine into three bays – a store room & dining area, the workspace and the huddle area that establishes a connection with the store below. While the mezzanine has been designed with the team in mind, the semi-public zone also plays host to furniture and art and encourages the presence of the retail space on top – this not only capitalizes on floor space but also builds a unique and intriguing narrative for customers to experience the store in its entirety. 

Respecting the textures of exposed brick, existing wood and metal, the introduction of new materials has been kept to a bare minimum. This further helps to accentuate the teak wood furniture pieces by providing backdrops and frames to highlight and showcase the same. The design speaks of simplicity and transparency – an effort to bridge the gap between the architecture and the product. 

Project Funded by

Tianu Furniture

Stakeholders Involved

Tianu Furniture, the clients, were engaged with the programming, planning processes as well as material choices. 

Principal Architect: Puran Kumar  

Design team: Noel Woodward, George Chacko, Nivedita Parab

What is the impact?

While Ballard Estate exudes a sense of grandeur, the precinct has lost its sheen over the years. Most buildings – though in exemplary condition – lie vacant and abandoned while glass spires crop up, in parts of the city, to take their place. However, recent developments and infrastructure projects validate the desire to occupy spaces within the district.

The erstwhile CBD could soon spring back to life with the upcoming underground Metro Rail Project, a concerted effort and the first of its kind in Mumbai, that seeks to connect the new with the old – a Special Economic Zone in the north with the Heritage and Art District in South Mumbai. The paucity of land and the rapid expansion of the city call for an alternative architectural and design solution.

Adaptively Re-Using old and defunct spaces within the heritage precinct could effectively rekindle a tryst with the past. By activating an otherwise desolate corner in Ballard Estate, the store seeks to encourage businesses to invest in re-using and restoring heritage structures within the precinct rather than focusing solely on the ‘new’. 

‘Tianu – The Revival Project’ is as much a revival for the space it occupies as it is for its context.

Images by Niveditaa Gupta | © all rights reserved

Technical Drawings:
Drawings by Studio PKA | © all rights reserved

Links to read more:

A link to the project.

About Studio PKA:

Studio PKA is a leading, award-winning architecture and design studio – based in South Mumbai, with a presence in NCR – that continues to redefine the concept of meaningful, functional and sustainable design. Since its inception – over 25 years ago – the studio has flourished as a professional architecture and design house. Our projects have continued to embody a strong sense of place and the identity – attributes which the studio relates with and which we strive to achieve. 

We believe in telling stories of weaving narratives that make the design process immersive, vivid and intimate. From collaborating to experimenting, and constantly questioning the status quo – the studio seeks conviction in its processes with an added dimension of empathy. With projects spread out across the country, we have garnered an extensive yet diverse portfolio of work that has catered to a distinguished clientele.