Unfolding as an innovative adaptive reuse project in Mumbai, the Imagine Studio at The Trees is a sensitive weft of nature, heritage and urbanism related through a compelling narrative of evolving contexts. The scheme, which initiated as a design for a marketing office, shaped into an exercise for place-making in an ultra premium development.
Conceptualized by Studio Lotus and the GPL Design Studio, the project transforms a small cluster of non-descript industrial buildings and its surrounding landscape into commemorative identities seeped indelibly in the developer’s legacy yet an invigorating part of its new purpose. Existing buildings and its elements were recycled not only to underline their relevance in the bygone eras but also add meaning as important design punctuations in the narrative. This sensory meld won the Imagine Studio at The Trees the prestigious Blue Elephant Award for ‘Design for Space’ at Kyoorius, one of the foremost creative awards for design and marketing communication in India.
The erstwhile industrial site was transformed into an experiential journey consisting of a Studio, Workshop, Café, Legacy Park, Urban Farm, Open Air Theatre and Market Plaza to demonstrate the underlying principles of ‘Live, Learn, Work, Play’ in a mixed-use development. Two co-generator plants were transformed into a marketing studio and a workshop with sample apartments, meeting areas and multipurpose spaces; together creating the gateway to the entire development. An existing boiler plant was converted into an all-day café by retaining the structural framework and a boiler tank as a memory of its original intent. Coupled with a large chimney, these structures frame a large plaza ideal for activities embodying the brand’s positioning through events, a market street, an urban farm and spaces for public art installations. The forms of the interiors are inspired from the silos at site with its silhouettes presenting a contrast to the rigid geometry of the building thus distinguishing themselves as sculptural inserts. The silo and chimney suspended within the space root it as a recall of the industrial process and is used internally as a cycloramic projection for the marketing team. A corten steel strip inserted into the layout acts as a guiding pathway that subtly indicates the key experiences of the entire marketing journey.
The timeless architectural forms derived from the current industrial sheds and the materiality of concrete, corten steel, brass and timber work on the principle of ‘Wabi-Sabi’, which would allow the buildings to age beautifully with the passage of time. The materials were deliberately chosen to add layers to the sequence of events planned for the project.
Buildings of the Imagine Studio at The Trees will ultimately get absorbed into the commercial hub of the development; continuing to stay on as key markers celebrating the rich traditions of the historic company while taking it strategically forward into its future.