22.10.2011 – Issue 5 - Global Observatory 1 – Anna Hotz, Gurjit Singh Matharoo – Interviews, Reviews
Architecture and product design are closely related. Matharoo Associates deal with both. For this reason they have structural engineers in their team. The interest in product design shows up not only in there projects, where they often design the complete building from the external shell to the door handle but also in the design of vehicles such as motorcycles or the remarkable Mobile Van called ’la Cattiva’, which is to go out to people for blood donations.
In architecture they cover a wide field. Different functions call for different buildings and equally different is their expression. What they all have in common is not just the use of concrete but the aim to cut costs and avoid waste. In their buildings most of the elements are locally produced and they tray to use construction materials more than once, e.g. by building the stage of the Prathama Blood Centre auditorium out of used form work.
Some of their buildings seem to be inspired by Le Corbusier. The Prathama Blood Centre looks like a sculpture out of folded paper despite the massive concrete walls. The tension between the heavy material and the light touch of the design is palpable also in the insight, for instance the free-floating staircase in front of the high massive concrete wall with the light streaming downwards. The Jain Guest house is a religious campus in Rajastan, originally founded as a shelter for stray cows. Its structure is very rigorous, the proportions are well chosen, geometrically strict. The ‘House with Balls’ is part observatory, part weekend retreat and a place for experiments in sustainability for an Indian Professor. All these functions are realised in one room, a design of stunning simplicity. The balls exist in reality and serve as counterweights for opening and closing the shutters.