Nestled snugly amongst the previously developed Bharat Diamond Bourse business park, the Rough Diamond makes a tight fit against the borders of a geometrically irregular site. From the Jewelers Mall found beneath it, through the 25 floors of lettable office space right up to its rooftop terrace, the sites geometric irregularity mutates as it rises up the height of the diamond. A logic of roughness is pursued by astutely integrating both the image and essence of the diamond business into the project, driven by a need to maximize usability, negotiate an otherwise awkward context and create an iconic, rational and polished yet protected gem.
Given the Diamonds predecessors restrictive floorplates and cramped interiors, the development of the building stemmed from a detailed consideration of four optimal, microscopic aspirational workspaces of varying densities. Ranging from a single 900mm x 1200mm chicken-coop cubicle through to an expansive 4.4m x 4.4m conference suite, the entire buildings structural framework is dictated by the successful accommodation of these environments, their tessellations across an irregular floor plate and the successful configuration of clear circulation routes between areas of different occupation types. Combined with a service void, false floor and a height of 2.6m between the two, the building is sustained by its guaranteed legacy of a long life as afforded by its grids ability to be repeated and accommodate an infinite amount of usable office arrangements despite its irregular appearance.
The 8m x 8m grid that enmeshes the empty space on each floor accommodates basement car parking and the seamless inclusion of 3 pairs of service cores. With minimal footprints, these provide the building with its superstructure and workers with their amenities at key junctures: points on each floor that enable the creation of clear spatial channels giving the lobby a clear view of the perimeter of the building regardless of the encircling leaseholders who may otherwise impede conduits of air and light from otherwise reaching into the heart of the building.
With each floorplate comprised of discrete parcels of space and constituent zones, no residual area is left over on any level. Floorplates are then stacked in groups of five, each level sharing a common atrium as the lowermost sails out free from under those above it to meet the skin of the Diamond, house common facilities and join itself to the floors above by a series of escalators. Continuously smooth cystalline glazing then unites the floors together in a unified 5 storey band of air and light skirting the people working away inside: In placing the traditionally central office atrium at the diamonds perimeter its frontage is increased to a level where it can bring the maximum environmental benefit to the people it circumnavigates and help to confront the existing schemes claustrophobic condition: An array of inclined escalator bridge-links adjoin the lowest three of these common atriums to the complexs existing offices, elevating the workers in these buildings up these escape routes from the drudgery of the cramped and dark interiors they currently work in, straight up into the Diamonds glinting polished core.
An independent protective skin wraps this hyper-rational interior to harvest the elements. The result of an intense marriage between physical and 3D modelling, this envelope is comprised of a series of different sized quadrilateral facets all exhibiting one of 6 different material treatments: Set against a Mumbai skyline in bed with the inappropriate superficial traditions bastardized from North Atlantic architectural paradigms, the building appears as an obstinately immobile rock roughly hewn from the Indian earth.
The textures of the 6 materials echo this logic of roughness, as each of the six address the city below with a rugged surface. The type of material inserted into each facet is governed by the orientation and aspirations for the internal environment of the spaces behind it. Those that face skyward on the Diamonds south aspect bear Photo-Voltaic panels to absorb the Indias abundant solar energy and aid the Diamonds passive operation, whilst its grey-water requirements are provided by consolidating rainwater-harvesting modules on the panels inclined to the sky on the northern faces. Spread evenly throughout the South, East and West faces, arrays of louvres at inclines sensitive to orientation help to draw fresh air inside the common atriums to induce a passive stack effect that naturally ventilates and shades the adjacent offices. Where this is not necessary corrugated aluminium sheets butt up against each other to create an undulating though seamless shield.
In the day time, the harsh Maharashtran Natural light is filtered through a taut ETFE membrane spread over some of the north facing panels in order to naturally illuminate the atrium and offices on that side. After sundown however, the translucent fabric portals glow as the light spilling out from the Diamonds living core renders the Diamond a beacon to its environs.
Bowing out beyond its footprint to shade the streets and public space below, at its base the diamond cracks open to create a cavernously prominent jewelry mall, insulated from the 23 floors of office space above by 2 floors of parking and a specially designed blast resistant slab. Travelling 90m skyward in the express elevator enables one to step out from a luxuriant 5 star retail experience into unprecedented lofty views over Mumbai: supported by a restaurant, bar, health club and helipad all skirted by a verdant jogging track that circumvents the roofs perimeter, in sandwiching the office space with semi-public recreation spaces we maximize the benefit that the multi-valency of the Diamonds occupation brings to the salaryman sick of the cramped cells of the developments other offices.