X Block by Planet 3 Studios Architecture



Indian architects Planet 3 Studios Architecture have refurbished a warehouse to create new facilities at Vidyalankar Institute of Technology in Mumbai.


The existing structure was given a new skin and interior, which features a lotus flower-shaped learning centre.


"The design borrows heavily from the language and forms of nature," says Kalhan Mattoo of Planet 3 Studios Architecture.


The building's skin is intended to evoke "the sway of tall grass stalks up-close in strong wind" and shelters a patio connected to the canteen.


The building includes laboratories, a learning centre and canteen.


Photographs are by Mrigank Sharma, India Sutra.


Here's some more information from Planet 3 Studios Architecture:


X Block, Vidyalankar Campus:

Taking forward the progressive education agenda of the institute, this significant new addition to a larger engineering college campus is an adaptive-reuse through interiors of a pre-existing industrial structure that has been retrofitted into a very unusual learning facility. Enthused by the success of their earlier designed building, the educators and the students unanimously elected to have us design this additional 35,000 sq ft space.


The program dictated multiple learning spaces and labs that would develop into an independent bio-technology and life-sciences centre. Located across an internal campus street, this structure directly faces the larger institute but defers in scale and significance. A post occupancy study of the earlier building provided insights into what was appreciated and accepted by the end users.


We decided to push the envelope further with more design interventions that challenged accepted notions of educational facility design. In a sense, this building is an intellectual and physical extension of the earlier facility. As before, the focus remained on the needs, wants and aspirations of the students and educators who were to inhabit and accept it as their own.


Gutted of its core, the bare shell received a mezzanine floor supported on an independent steel structure. Partitions and elements of lightweight interior materials bend, twist and turn to become large student work displays, graffiti strips, light sources, whimsical lotus petal cladding over a learning centre, colourful organic patterned laminate skins, ventilators as signage letters, a couple of Peepul trees with a hammock to hang in between, large leaf like partitions, cellular screens and more.


The design borrows heavily from the language and forms of nature and the graphic quality of most constructs reiterates its intended use. A staircase with a railing evoking frayed, dried wheat stalk rendered in wood and steel, a meeting room with a twist, game board near the entrance and strategically punctured roof with skylights illuminating the interior corridors, outsized letters that write café and define separation between canteen and passageway, all reiterate the unique nature of this facility.


While some elements are directly resonant of intended use like leaf and cellular partitions, others, like the lotus centre allude more obliquely to latent Indian symbolism…seat of learning and lotus is one such AHA! association that we expect the end users to discover on their own. We added a building skin that evokes the sway of tall grass stalks up-close in strong wind. This skin wraps over an external patio that serves as a partially shaded public space. The intention was to ease the transition between inside and outside and continue the interior public space energy to the building exterior. With street furniture, service from canteen and WI-FI facility, we expect it to be another space that students will accept as their own. At night, the colored glass punctures opening from the canteen and reflective skin surface will add a bit of drama and turn this into a really exciting college to learn and hang out in.


We hope that this project will go on to establish the fact that building typologies have to evolve to keep pace with changing needs and design can truly contribute towards communicating and establishing progressive ideas. There is after all no better proof of intention that the built form.


Wadala, Mumbai, India

Planning (Facade):
Dec ’07 to Feb’08

Planning (Interiors):
Sept ’08 to Nov’08

Construction (Facade):
May’08 to Oct’08

Construction (Interiors):
Dec’08 to Feb’09

35500 square feet.

Cost of construction:
USD 1 million

Design Consultancy.

Planet 3 Studios Architecture Pvt. Ltd., www.planet3studios.com

Design Team:
Kalhan Mattoo, Santha Gour Mattoo, Rashmi Pachgade, Aditi Gautam, Biswarup Roy, Kanwal Kapoor

Mrigank Sharma, India Sutra


Posted on Saturday July 11th 2009 at 12:20 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • booh

    it’s like… a children’s museum meets a technical school… Well… I guess I have always been a mama’s boy…

  • Kiran

    Love the sheer CHUTZPAH of the designers!!!! Contemporary Indian design at its radical BEST!….

  • Prof Z, genius D


  • Tyler

    I would have killed to have grown up learning in such a creative and unique space!

  • edualc

    is this a joke? too much fuss….to much clutter.
    must be a pin going up that stiars….watch ur head….might leae ur nore or ear stuck!
    where’s the old shool ‘less is….’?

  • edualc

    (mind me correcting my spelling mistakes….)
    is this a joke? too much fuss….to much clutter.
    must be a pain going up that stiars….watch ur head….might leave ur nose or ear stuck!
    where’s the old shool ‘less is….’?

  • yay! india!

  • easyjig

    oh thats really looks fresh and funny
    but i wonder if those pretty decorations are changable,becouse in a few years it will really look ridikulous

  • nimish

    Love it! Maximal, designed from the gut or some place below….’Gimme More!’

  • Deepak Thavrani


  • Gauhar

    One tight slap on the face of those who desire faux greek orders and other sad leftovers from a colonial past. I went to a college that had pretensions of nobility….and there are many such in India…this is brave (foolhardy) in indian context…..love it or hate it, cannot ignore it…..and how did they convince the clients?!!….double thumbs up!!

  • rajeev

    One Word.
    Thats it.

  • Gauhar

    ahem! occidentals won’t get this, this isn’t kindergarten chic..the AHA thing is the indian goddess of learning Saraswati and her seat..a lotus! and u kno what else is cool…the village chaupal/square..with the pipal tree…maybe i will discover more….

  • PhotoArchitect

    very interesting place to BE. Vibrant (no doubt) but with harmony. Fun(no doubt) but serious one

  • kanwal

    i like it….. a fresh wave of design from young designers across the globe….

    i hope more ‘design action’ is in store from this design gang


    It is really a great pleasure working in this block X.

  • prachi

    Didn’t use their ‘out-of-the-box workstation’ here???!!

  • should i study?…..or should i look around?..no wait!…should i study?…..or should i look around….should i study?…..or should i look around!…..

    aarrghh!….i am out of school now!….

    pity…. they dont teach design here!….


  • straight talk

    why why why ———-do instituitions need to look boring, uninspiring, drab premises which make you yawn…and then we see X block and are so happy about it.

    This is not a small scared step trying to bring in a little change, but one giant leap that I hope wakes people up and forces them to say –hey WHY NOT?

  • zahra

    wow!!!!!!!!!! i wud luv to study in such an institute

  • PETE

    Memphis is back!!!

  • navdeep

    Lil over done with the design …I think they have to grow up a bit …guys don’t experiment with 100 things at a same time …need some breathing space .

  • awesome

    how do i get these photographs? i need ’em for my project in college as we are supposed to take a study on kalhan mattoo

  • Kishore

    very unusual for a college in india to have a facility like this…
    And that patio is quite something! Instantly likeable!…
    but I'm not too sure I like that lotus learning pod thingy….

  • Ankita

    its way too disturbing….cant stay in this space for long.

  • Jon K

    what does a rectangular footprint do here? it seems constrained, a demo space.