MASSIVE ELEGANCE

GURJIT SINGH MATHAROO –
by Anna Hotz

Architecture and product design are closely related. Matharoo Associates deal with both. For this reason they have structural engineers in their team. The interest in product design shows up not only in there projects, where they often design the complete building from the external shell to the door handle but also in the design of vehicles such as motorcycles or the remarkable Mobile Van called ’la Cattiva’, which is to go out to people for blood donations.
In architecture they cover a wide field. Different functions call for different buildings and equally different is their expression. What they all have in common is not just the use of concrete but the aim to cut costs and avoid waste. In their buildings most of the elements are locally produced and they tray to use construction materials more than once, e.g. by building the stage of the Prathama Blood Centre auditorium out of used form work.
Some of their buildings seem to be inspired by Le Corbusier. The Prathama Blood Centre looks like a sculpture out of folded paper despite the massive concrete walls. The tension between the heavy material and the light touch of the design is palpable also in the insight, for instance the free-floating staircase in front of the high massive concrete wall with the light streaming downwards. The Jain Guest house is a religious campus in Rajastan, originally founded as a shelter for stray cows. Its structure is very rigorous, the proportions are well chosen, geometrically strict. The ‘House with Balls’ is part observatory, part weekend retreat and a place for experiments in sustainability for an Indian Professor. All these functions are realised in one room, a design of stunning simplicity. The balls exist in reality and serve as counterweights for opening and closing the shutters.

WHAT IS YOUR WORK ABOUT?

Our studio undertakes design work ranging from architecture, interiors, landscape and structures to products and automobiles. We see all design disciplines as one without boundaries and work with a fully integrated approach leading to wholesome result. The two pillars which are fundamental and non-negotiable to our practice are functionality of program and efficiency of services, while innovation and wit become essential ingredients of our soulful cuisines. There has been a symbiotic relationship between structure and architecture ever since the firm’s inception. We use materials in their natural form, where sunlight becomes the only embellishment as it varies and changes through the day and across the seasons. While our buildings remain truly embedded in nature, we approach them with extreme clarity and utmost restraint.

WHY DO YOU MAKE ARCHITECTURE?

Unlike other animals, human occupation in buildings destroys that part of our limited earth forever. Therefore we believe that this inherently destructive process be made as creative as possible. We see architecture as art that we dwell within, and without. There is an inner urge to make buildings which are meant to be discovered; unfolding around one’s body as one moves through, revealing their secrets and meanings; over time and over spatial layers.

HOW DO YOU APPROACH A PROJECT?

We look for peculiarities in the clients brief and context that could render our creations an unusual character and towards a direction less explored. We address this peculiarity strongly in the concept and then it is further enhanced through rigorous design development to make a functional working building that on one hand fully satisfies the clients’ needs, this being our minimum guarantee, and on the other gives us a unique creative solution to the problem stated.

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