Chris Lake | March 01, 2011
Proof that design can promote educational progress, especially in a developing country, Planet 3 Studios Architecture converted a warehouse into a showstopping biomedical engineering building for the Vidyalankar Institute of Technology in Mumbai. "True creativity and willingness to make a change are not constrained by budget, available skills, or building technologies," Planet 3 director Kalhan Mattoo says. "Ordinary materials can do extraordinary things."
The word extraordinary applies both to the facade's zigzagging aluminum panels and to the 35,000-square-foot interior, completed for just $500,000. Mattoo calls the classrooms, labs, lecture hall, faculty offices, café, and semi-enclosed patio an "educational village." On the anigre-floored mezzanine, strips of plastic laminate turn bent-plywood partitions into a multicolored patchwork. Ribbons of white-painted fiberboard undulate overhead, outlining the shapes of lotus petals, a Hindu symbol of the goddess of knowledge. He also managed to tuck in some Western whimsy: a life-size chess board, half a basketball court, a Ping-Pong table, and an old-fashioned red phone booth.