Time and again, Kunal and Khushboo Khandelwal of Studio Design Inc have illustrated their immaculate penchant for creating compelling and layered visual narratives. The Arcgate Project in Udaipur reinforces the design duo’s strategic and analytical approach to spaces. The project brings to the fore yet another aspect that needs to be addressed by every corporate entity—that of respecting and enhancing its context. The stakeholders inevitably emphasised on their corporate visual identity, but at the same time ensured that the visual narrative of the brand extended to its immediate context. In this feature, we take you through all the three aspects of the Arcgate Project—the Arcgate IT Park, the Corporate Office and the Traffic Islands.
The Arcgate IT Park: A Conscious Tool for Revitalisation
“The park opposite the Arcgate Campus was a rundown, dilapidated and barren plot of land that wasn’t maintained or used. Though essentially in an industrial zone, the fringes of the area had a lot of small residential homes that were disconnected, without any sense of community, with kids playing on the road and no place for the elderly. The area tended to become unsafe post sunset as there was no other activity in the neighbourhood. Arcgate decided to adopt the land with a generic idea of maintaining and sprucing it up,” informs Kunal Khandelwal.
Here, in this context, it is appropriate to quote Fred Kent, “If you plan cities for cars and traffic, you get cars and traffic; if you plan for people and places, you get people and places.” Public areas can shape community ties in neighbourhoods, become places of encounter, influence, improve human relationships, stimulate actions, and help prevent crime.
They are environments for interaction, both physical and mental, that strongly impact the quality of the neighbourhood, and in turn, the urban environment. “We decided to take this idea forward and worked with the company to not treat this as a simple beautification exercise, but to give it a complete overhaul, emotionally and physically with the understanding that this had the potential to be a real cause of ‘change’, stemming the idea of revitalising the park to become a landmark and a point of pride for its neighbourhood and people,” adds Khushboo.
There were two aspects to the brief—the intangibles and the tangibles. The latter included a volleyball court, gym, cricket ground, walking track, relaxation area for seniors, etc, and the intangibles translated to community revitalization, economic development, and safer neighbourhoods. “We amalgamated the tangibles, intangibles, and challenges to create the base of the design—an idea of a crisp and strong layout, breaking up the large plot of land into various pockets. This gave the flexibility of allocating various budgets to different areas,” elucidates Khushboo.
A strong central space centred towards the Arcgate campus became the axis, with a ribbon of a walking track running along the periphery. The two areas on either side of the axis were further divided into a volleyball court, a gym and a relaxation area for seniors on one side, with the other side having a community space and a cricket ground.
This exercise of matching the intangibles of the program with definite tangibles, with the human equation and activity at the core, has caused the park slowly and steadily to become a high activity zone, inviting the laughter of children, conversations of seniors and a bustling space for sport and culture. It has succeeded in becoming a quiet but impactful community project, not restricted just to the park but extending to the surroundings as well.
The Traffic Island
The design of the traffic island sought to embody the smart growth of the city and set the correct scale for an intimate experience that would blend with the ideology, values and ethos of an individual in the city of Udaipur. “We wanted to create a landmark within the urban fabric which would transgress from the traditional elements of the city to its modern development, and become a strong visual identification and subsequently an iconic landmark in the citie’s movement pattern,” explains Khushboo.
Taking cues from its people, rich heritage, its culture, traditional arts – the idea took root of merging art and sculpture through an urban art installation. The installation’s arched frames denote the various stages of life, wherein each arch is deconstructed into various words. Each of the words talks about the proliferation of the mind and symbolises a balance of life, growth and responsibility of each individual to oneself and the society.
The gaps in these arches represent influences, which form the stimuli for introspection and decision-making in the personal journey of a human being through various stages of growth. These arches hence become symbolic of the parallel growth of an individual’s values and his growth with the development of the city,
stressing on the idea that a city’s growth is fostered purely by its inhabitants.
The Arcgate Campus – Big Ideas, Big Data
Arcgate is a young and dynamic company passionate about data and technology. It helps some of the most innovative start-ups in the world with AI training, data collection and cleaning, data enrichment, search relevance, content moderation, lead generation and digital transformation. “Dissecting the client’s brief to arrive at the idea of the Arcgate Campus was the most intense, exhilarating and fun part of the project. Collaborating with the client led to an exploration into a design realm that was fearless and fun, spirited, highly interactive and constantly evolving, much like AI today,” says Kunal.
With a vision of taking the client’s work philosophy to another level, Kunal and Khushboo created a visual and verbal rendering of ideas. The ABCs of Arcgate—accelerate, build, collaborate, dream, explore, flourish, galvanise, harmonize, ignite, jump, kindle, learn, measure, nourish, observe, play, question, reach, sculpt, teach, unite, visualise, widen, zoom—became the guiding factor and essence of the design.
The spatial and graphic interventions at Arcgate were designed keeping in mind the end user, the Arcgatian, who spends over eight hours each day on the campus, and whose average age is about 23. “We wanted the average Arcgatian to love coming into work every day and lending the campus a vibrant, fun and fearless vibe made for a natural transition with the philosophy and the Arcgatian at its core,” says Kunal.
The executive area on the ground floor is called the Himalayas and is planned to be more formal. It holds the director’s cabin, the director’s Lounge around a common garden court, a conference room, a waiting lounge, and the executive offices. The spirit, fun and philosophies of the ABCs of Arcgate are translated very differently on this floor, which is more formal and understated to be in sync with the very nature of the space, whilst not losing its essence at any point.
The waiting lounge at the Himalayas is defined by the quintessential Arcgate signature colour orange, framed against a deep blue wall through a slatted wood and metal screen. The ABCs of Arcgate take a direct connotation here, along with a graphic word wall with embossed text running and moving across it. The director’s lounge combines a sense of the formal with a funky painted graphic wall and ceiling merging into one and reflected in a mirror wall, becoming the highlight of the space. The conference room is a very formal space, defined by a grey leather and metal panelled wall with a large felt-textured orange ‘A’ embossed on it. A rich-grained wood ceiling over a wood table completes the space.
The east wing has four halls—Boston, Chicago, New York and Food Street. Food Street is the cafeteria, while the other halls in Boston, Chicago and New York are planned to hold central meeting pods, conference rooms, training rooms, workstations, discussion rooms and essential services. The planning revolves around the Central Meeting Pod, which forms a distinct fulcrum in the space, around which the workstations are located. Considering the large number of workstations in each hall, there was a deliberate attempt to negate their presence by enveloping the space using the language of strong ceilings and wall surfaces.
This idea of space becomes an ongoing interactive process at work, which involves a sense of fun and comfort, constantly evolving both the human and the space. The project where the design acts as the stimuli to the philosophy, to the visual senses, to emotions—fearless, spirited, dynamic—becomes a strong visual anchor in the company’s identity telling its story: Big Ideas, Big Data
Area: East Wing -50000 sqft.
Concept and Interior Design: Khushboo and Kunal Khandelwal, Studio Design Inc.
Design Team: Pooja Zimbar, Pooja Bhise, Khushboo Khandelwal, Kunal Khandelwal
Graphic Design: Superstudio Mumbai
General Contractor: Ambalal
Furniture: Iraj Evolution, Defurn, Poltrona Frau
Accessories: Bo Concept, Defurn, Studio Avni, Clients personal collection, Black Crow.
Photographs: PHX INDIA
Khushboo and Kunal Khandelwal
Founders, Studio Design Inc.
Studio Design Inc was founded by Khushboo and Kunal Khandelwal in 2000. The founders describe
it as a ‘people-oriented’ multi-disciplinary design practice. Studio Design Inc prides itself on not adhering to a specific ‘sense of style’ or ‘genre’ but choosing to interpret each client’s requirements differently. The design duo believes in translating the complexities of the thought process into affable solutions through intense dialogue, clarity, simplicity, material exploration and detailed design comprehension. The intimacy and involvement with the client and the continuous endeavor for achieving excellence has ensured that the design team at Studio Design Inc is compact and dynamic.