the overgrown garden
terrace garden for an office
Arjun Sharma, Gaurav Shetty
S+PS Architects, Mumbai
Located in the iconic Ahura Center at MIDC Andheri, the clients had a generous three-sided terrace that projected out to the city. From the very start of the project, everyone in the lead design team was deeply swayed by the idea of the landscape growing over the architecture and giving a sense of a long passage of time (almost lost to time).
The planting design here drew from this sense of an overgrown garden that tows the fine line between wilderness and just barely under control. The planting palette is somewhat mixed, drawing from tropical plants for their deep glossy greens and vibrant colours and dotted with grasses and taller plants that will sway with the wind. The height of the planting dances at eye level and sometimes cuts one off from the city below and at other times offers up a vignette of long sightlines into the distance.
The planting weaves in and out of the lawn and is intentionally undefined. This allows for that sense of the wild and the transgression of the lawn edge which is generally perceived as a straight line. It seems as if the lantanas and the rhoeos and the pandanus(es) are pushing back the lawn in parts and overgrowing.
This calls for sensitive management of the garden, handled expertly by Mr Vikas Kharwar. We spent many visits and hours describing the form every plant was allowed to take for that sense of wilderness to prevail.
There were a sizable amount of vertical elements required for this project. Almost all tenants use the terrace for their HVAC and ancillary storage needs. The area where the ODUs were placed is screened with a translucent sheet framed in a stainless steel finish. The translucent sheet allows for the light to percolate through and thus the barrier stops short of becoming a wall and amputating the three-sided terrace.
On the other side, the seating area is defined by a pergola structure which is light, almost airy, also in a high-grade stainless steel finish. It is made to respect the existing Champa tree(Plumeria alba). This is expressed in a circular cutout in the rectangular pergola where the Champa spreads its branches. The ‘measured’ pergola is a carefully calibrated structure that offers only a hint of spatial demarcation for seating without imposing on the architectural form of the building.