Talati & Pantaky Associated Designers LLP design the new Ibis hotel at Kalina, Mumbai
Deviating from the typical design template adopted by the current crop of hotel brands, their design follows functional requirements rather than the conventions of certain brand typologies.
Hotels, today, are more than just receptacles for their occupants—their function extends beyond providing spaces to sleep and stay in, and reflect the needs and aspirations of their guests. Reflecting on these ideals as the driving force behind their design approach, the architectural firm, Talati & Pantaky Associated Designers LLP, have been deliberating on a new language for hospitality spaces. Illustrating this with the firm’s ongoing project—Ibis hotel at Kalina, Mumbai—Jay Vidyut Shah, Principal Associate Architect, Talati & Pantaky Architects, delves into its design and ideation process.
As a protocol, the initial brief that the team of architects and designers at the firm received from the client, InterGlobe Enterprises, simply laid out design instruction from the French design catalogue, given that ibis originally hails from a French chain of hotels. “The specifications and size of the rooms-to-the-amenities had to be strictly followed as per the catalogue and the client’s brief. A mathematical calculation to fit somewhere close to 180-200 rooms in a very challenging and unconventional site footprint,” states Shah.
He further mentions that most of the ibis hotels across the world are square or rectangular in size and shape due to the strict instructions and specifications mentioned in the catalogue. In addition, the ratio of rooms’ size to the bathroom is predetermined with only minor changes allowed, if necessary. Owing to the shape of the site and the requirements of 180–200 rooms for the project to be financially viable, the design team had to adapt to the form of the site and make maximum use of the complete plot. It became an extremely challenging task to tailor-fit a uniform rectangular building and achieve the given requirements within the boundaries of a jagged, non-rectilinear site, while complying with all the rules and regulations of the civic authorities.
Weighing the given dilemma in regards to the site, Shah explains how the design team deliberated over a solution: “We wanted to break away from the conventional match-box form and elevation without compromising on the shape and size of the room, which usually determines the form. Taking advantage of the site and the inclined road frontage, we decided to step the building plan and façade after every two rooms to achieve a movement in the façade rather than a conventional box.”
He avers that this ibis hotel property would be one of the first of its kind, with a proposed performance glass façade on the front with vertical aluminum fins placed strategically from the outside, rather than the conventional 1200mmx1200mm approximate window size for each room. Shah extends the credit for the successful execution of this plan to Mr Rahul Bhatia, MD of InterGlobe Enterprises, who, upon seeing the elevation, rendered his approval instantly in a site meeting held at a 100 sq-ft site office.
The delivery process
Elaborating on the complete delivery process Shah explains, “The process was an exceptionally wonderful experience and yet tough, given the fact that we had to achieve and fit the requirements to make the project viable. Irrespective of the size of the hotel, its design and experience is not only defined by the rooms, but also by the various services and parking requirements. Given that it is extremely important to make a great first impression, the vehicular and pedestrian movements have to be devised within the hotel design, without compromising on the guest experience, once a guest walks into the lobby. Every minute detail—from the door size to the reception size, along with the back office needs to be pre-conceived within the constraints of the brief. Unlike other five-star hotels, ibis is primarily a business hotel and has a compact size with limited options and flexibility for the project to be viable.”
The ibis hotel at Kalina includes two basements that accommodate all the services and parking requirements for the project. To achieve this requirement, the only way was to follow the site boundary and not waste any pocket. Also, since the site location was under the aviation funnel with close proximity to the Mumbai airport, there was a strict height regulation. Hence, to achieve the full requirement and consume the maximum FSI, the design team couldn’t go beyond a certain height and the challenge was to fit the requirements within the permitted height itself.
Delving on the complexities of designing a hotel building, Shah states, “Services and functionality are most important aspects in the hospitality industry, along with the aesthetics and amenities. A good functional hotel will be equipped to provide great guest service, which would lead to repeated guests. In the hospitality business, the minutest detail—from HVAC to F&B service—needs to be addressed with great clarity. The industry is the perfect amalgamation of form and function, and a challenging one creatively.
“Architects, alone, no more reign over a project. They have to work with a number of stakeholders—each of whom bring in their own knowledge and expertise to the table. “There are various consultants involved in a project—such as structural engineers, MEP consultants, lighting consultants, landscape architects, Liaoning architects, contractors, project managers and special amenity consultants—with whom we, as architects and interior designers, are required to co-ordinate with to eventually complete the project successfully. Establishing that synergy is critical for an architect to ensure that the project is completed amalgamates the client’s interest and all the various partners’ requirements and executes it to the best possibility. We, as architects, are the connecting factor between clients and all the other consultants. Hence, it’s our responsibility to ensure the viability of the project in terms of finance, strict timelines, budget and the architects’ vision. My biggest lesson: if this project was possible with a successful amalgamation of creativity, function and form, then every project has its unique aspect and can take an unconventional approach,” concludes Shah.