Mohan Co-operative Industrial Estate in New Delhi is a thin sliver of land adjoining the Delhi-Agra railway line on the eastern side. Originally meant for manufacturers that required access to the nearby freight facilities, it has now descended into a civic mess of offices and aging warehouses with parking overflowing on the streets, leaving pedestrians to negotiate broken roads and constant traffic. The land for the El B1 project had earlier housed a steel mill and hence, an aging metal structure occupied part of the site.
The brief from the owner was to create an office building that could have multiple end-users. At the outset, the strategy was to make a facility that was not only flexible, but also had a civic presence. A basement was created to accommodate parking, with a discreet ramp set below the building plinth. This freed up the front edge of the property and a wide walking area was created, leading up to the building entrance.
The building was organized into three basic areas;A central office block flanked by two service areas, one at the front and another at the rear. The centre block, a large 60' wide column free space was repeated on the upper floors. The main stair, expressed in the facade as a tall grey volume, an elevator and a common conference room were accommodated in the front service area and the rear block housed the toilets, building services, a spare elevator and a fire escape stair.
The upper floor, designed as a private suite of offices for the client, was expressed a dark grey slab apparently floating on the glass wall below. Punctured with square windows, the horizontality provides a dramatic counterpoint to the verticality of the stair volume. A corner of this grey box was cut away on the front facade to reveal a shaded terrace, as a private area for refuge and contemplation.