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MuseLAB is an end-to-end design studio; offering a bespoke and leading-edge approach to design. With a precise focus on unique and highly customized environments, interiors and furniture. In 2012 partners Huzefa Rangwala and Jasem Pirani founded the studio built upon their shared passion for design. Each space and or product embodies integrity and is created with the same care, skill and attention to detail.

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Filtering by Tag: Muse MATTERS

MuseMATTERS: Digital Imaging In Architecture

MuseLAB

Digital rendering is an extremely effective medium enabling architects, clients and investors to envision a structure before it is even built. Presenting a design idea to a client can be equally challenging as the design process itself.  In recent times, computer generated images and renderings have played an extremely pivotal role in architectural presentations. While renderings can provide strikingly accurate depictions of buildings, are architects being true with these depictions? How much creative liberty can an architect take to convey the design idea? These questions are highly subjective, and whether we agree or disagree, stylized renderings have been an integral part of the architectural profession including competitions and commissions. 

Architectural renderings range from being sketchy and conceptual to photorealistic. Of the infinite rendering styles, the images below represent some contrasting styles of rendering. 

(L) Blackout at dusk.  Image courtesy www.mir.no  (R)   Menacing Atmosphere.  Image courtesy Urban Future Organization and CR-Design

(L) Blackout at dusk. Image courtesy www.mir.no (R) Menacing Atmosphere. Image courtesy Urban Future Organization and CR-Design

Dreamy echoes of light. Image courtesy Bustler, Joseph Filippelli 

Dreamy echoes of light. Image courtesy Bustler, Joseph Filippelli 

Photorealistic textures.  Image courtesy www.mir.no

Photorealistic textures. Image courtesy www.mir.no

Underlying stories.  Image courtesy BIG. 

Underlying stories. Image courtesy BIG. 

Informal collages.  Image courtesy Alex Hogrefe.   

Informal collages. Image courtesy Alex Hogrefe.  

Urban Abstracts.  Image courtesy Alex Hogrefe

Urban Abstracts. Image courtesy Alex Hogrefe

Creating an image that accurately represents the design requires a substantial skill set and investing a great amount of time perfecting it. 3D renderings are often inspired from architectural photography. In creating the perfect rendering that represents the design, some thumb rules of photography should be considered while modeling and rendering the structure. Three of these guides have been illustrated below.

Composition

Composition

Depth of Field

Depth of Field

Rule of Thirds

Rule of Thirds

In recent times, renderings and stylized representation of buildings have become hyper-idealistic images and are in itself a form of art. The degree of perfection attained in a computer generated image can never be achieved in reality. Thus, the two-dimensional graphic representation of architecture has, traditionally, been the precursor or subsequent by-product of architecture — but never a substitute. A two-dimensional image may never be able to communicate the experiential qualities of a three-dimensional space. A digital image may be a powerful artistic or theoretical conception, but it is far from reality. 

Muse MATTERS is a series of dialogues that as a studio we shall engage in– the purpose of the dialogues is for the studio to discuss matters, ask questions, share lessons learnt and may be in the process we can make a difference. Topics discussed shall not be restricted to the field of architecture and design necessarily; they could be about an experience, a journey, a comic strip and anything in between or beyond. We will use this space to share our thoughts and blurbs.

 

 

 

 

 

MuseMATTERS: Sound Architecture

MuseLAB

As Architects, we design spaces and in the process we create experiences that evoke our visual and tactile senses, but very rarely do we consciously design spaces that focus on the aural experience. Inspired by Julian Treasure’s TedX talk on Why Architects need to use their Ears, this week at MuseMATTERS, we discussed the importance of Sound in Architectural Design

Julian Treasure,  Image courtesy ted.com

Julian Treasure, Image courtesy ted.com

Numerous factors must be considered when designing an interior architecture space and one of the most common issues is acoustics and noise, both within the space and within the environment. If ignored, it can cause health and safety concerns for the users and depending on the function of the space, it can discourage users from returning to the space let alone resulting in huge sums of money to correct the sound quality within it.

Typically, there are several constants within the elements of design which influence the acoustics of a space; for instance, the shape of the walls and ceilings, the materials used and the methods of construction amongst others. But what is more important is to find out exactly what gives rise to this problem before actually defining a solution for it. And this is where the other elements come in, both tangible and intangible.

Many a times the noise in a space is the noise from the users of the space – talking, whispering, shouting, laughing etc. This noise can be compounded by other noise sources as well – for example, if patrons are seated close to the kitchen in a restaurant, the sound emanating from the kitchen will compel them to talk louder in order to hear each other. Sometimes mechanical and plumbing equipment can also lead to unwanted noise. The best example would be a hospital, where health of the patients can be jeopardized if there is a build-up of noise due to loud HVAC and plumbing systems. This distraction can easily affect the sleep of the patients and increase their recovery time. 

Ambience sound affects us physiologically, psychologically, behaviourally and intellectually, all at the same time
— Julian Treasure

Noises from external factors can also have a huge impact on the interior of the space. Depending on the type of materials and the construction techniques used, the noise of traffic can easily transmit through the exterior walls and can be a matter of concern for users of spaces adjoining major highways, roadways, railways or airports. Also, in case if the space is in a multi-used, shared building, then noise from the neighbouring occupants can also transmit through the walls between the two spaces.

As designers and space shapers we most often talk about how the space is affected by sound from sources outside but we do not consider the fact that the space being designed also will become a source from which sound will emanate, impacting the environment around and the adjacent neighbourhoods. 

After listening in to Julian Treasure’s talk we concluded that as architects we need to be wary of sound – whether it is an office (interior) space or an urban space. The architecture of sound is actually invisible architecture; it is more about designing not the appearance but the experience so that we have spaces that sound as good as they look in order to improve our health and productivity along with our behaviour and overall well-being.

Muse MATTERS is a series of dialogues that as a studio we shall engage in– the purpose of the dialogues is for the studio to discuss matters, ask questions, share lessons learnt and may be in the process we can make a difference. Topics discussed shall not be restricted to the field of architecture and design necessarily; they could be about an experience, a journey, a comic strip and anything in between or beyond. We will use this space to share our thoughts and blurbs.

MuseMATTERS: A walk through Bandra with Alisha Sadikot

MuseLAB

This week we joined Alisha Sadikot on a walk through the neighbourhood of Bandra.  We would not like to reveal much as we would be doing injustice to the walk experience with Alisha Sadikot. We highly recommend this one. Here are some notes from our diary.

Alisha Sadikot is an independent museums and heritage education professional working to instigate critical and creative public engagement with museum collections and heritage spaces in Mumbai. Museums are her happy place. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter @alishasadikot and visit her blog at The Inheritage Project

 

Castella dr Aguada  commonly known as Bandra Fort. 

Castella dr Aguada commonly known as Bandra Fort. 

House on a Hill : Reminiscence of Byramjee Jeejeebhoy’s residence built atop the hill at Land’s End, overlooking the Rajiv Gandhi Sea link and the skyline of Mumbai on a clear day.

House on a Hill: Reminiscence of Byramjee Jeejeebhoy’s residence built atop the hill at Land’s End, overlooking the Rajiv Gandhi Sea link and the skyline of Mumbai on a clear day.

The Basilica of Our Lady of The Mount  commonly known as Mount Mary Church. Originally built by the Portuguese Jesuits in the 16th century and rebuilt a few times thereafter. 

The Basilica of Our Lady of The Mount commonly known as Mount Mary Church. Originally built by the Portuguese Jesuits in the 16th century and rebuilt a few times thereafter. 

St. Stephen's Church  was built to cater to the needs of British Protestant Christians living in Bandra. 

St. Stephen's Church was built to cater to the needs of British Protestant Christians living in Bandra. 

Cemetery at St. Stephen's Church  and some hidden gems around Bandra. 

Cemetery at St. Stephen's Church and some hidden gems around Bandra. 

Ranwar   Village : A quaint village in Bandra that remains untouched by the glass and steel edifice of "developing" Mumbai. 

Ranwar Village: A quaint village in Bandra that remains untouched by the glass and steel edifice of "developing" Mumbai. 

Street Art  at Ranwar. 

Street Art at Ranwar. 

Storefronts of Ranwar

Storefronts of Ranwar

Muse MATTERS is a series of dialogues that as a studio we shall engage in– the purpose of the dialogues is for the studio to discuss matters, ask questions, share lessons learnt and may be in the process we can make a difference. Topics discussed shall not be restricted to the field of architecture and design necessarily; they could be about an experience, a journey, a comic strip and anything in between or beyond. We will use this space to share our thoughts and blurbs.

MuseMATTERS: 100 Smart Cities or Self-sustaining habitats?

MuseLAB

The government has announced an urban agenda to develop 100 new smart cities for the country as a solution to the issue of: urban liveability. This initiative has received a lot of attention within the country and the world. Intense discussions and thought provoking debates are taking place regarding the form and context within which these cities should be developed. 

A summarized version of the Government of India’s definition of a smart city is: “one that is clean competitive, capital generating and sustainable. The cities should provide good basic infrastructure such as water, sanitation, reliable utility services, health care, attractive for investments, transparent processes to be able to run businesses, simple and on line processes for obtaining approvals and services and facilities to make the people of the city feel safe and secure. To read more about the smart cities mission visit smartcities.gov.in

By that definition a smart city sounds no different than what a city should be in the first place. Cities are engines of growth and as a result of which they attract people. With increasing urbanization and the lack of infrastructure, the government has now realized the need for cities that can cope with the challenges of urban living and also be magnets for investment.

Illustration concept of smart city technologies.   Image courtesy freepik.com

Illustration concept of smart city technologies. Image courtesy freepik.com

When we talk of smart cities often people limit their conversations to the need for sensors, CCTVS, ambient intelligence and digital records. Instead they need to talk about raising the standard of living, generating resources, creating opportunities and self-sustaining habitats.

Sustainability or building right and sensitively has to be one of the main criteria for a smart city. The city should be able to address climate change and reduce carbon footprint. So how can technology really assist us in the planning of smart cities? 3D mapping tools have become valuable for visualizing and designing cities where various services can be layered and looked at together. Like in New Orleans, CyArk is using that same 3-D mapping data to create a detailed digital copy of the city, so that if there is catastrophic damage, and some of these historic buildings are destroyed or altered, a detailed record of what was there could be referenced. As Neelie Kroes, Vice-President, Commissioner Digital Agenda, European Commission once said, “Every city already generates huge amounts of information, for many different purposes. But too often that information is lost. It’s time to get smart and start using it”.

Case – studies of cities in the west is good to look at for the lessons learned but by aping the west we are not going to be able to solve our issues. Each city in India has its unique set of issues and challenges that need to be dealt with and resolved by providing solutions specific to that city. We need to find our own mix and derive a definition that is specific to us.

But in a country where millions are struggling to get by, the initiative also got us wondering how people will be able to afford the expensive housing and living costs of smart cities. The upcoming infrastructure in most parts of the country is coming at the expense of farming land. Rural percentage is higher than urban because India is an agrarian state and most families depend on farming for their livelihood.

Should the focus now be on building new smart cities or retrofitting existing cities or developing the villages around these existing cities? It has previously been stated that no economy can grow on the basis of agriculture so it is inevitable that people will move to cities. In that statement alone lays the answer to our problems. A sustainable growth with balanced resources could help in raising the quality of life of rural areas.

At the first Annual Architecture Festival hosted in Jaipur, B V Doshi and Rajeev Kathpalia had spoken about Crafting Future Cities and what they had to say was, "We are used to cities as centralized entities and we are saying perhaps the time has come to start thinking of each place as independent and self-supporting", which is what sustainable cities are all about.

Proposal of the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City), one of the flagship smart cities of the 100 Smart Cities program.   Image courtesy archdaily. 

Proposal of the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City), one of the flagship smart cities of the 100 Smart Cities program. Image courtesy archdaily. 

Masdar city is among the more high-profile experiments in smart-city technology.   Image courtesy: Foster + Partners. 

Masdar city is among the more high-profile experiments in smart-city technology. Image courtesy: Foster + Partners. 

Be it a city or a village, these are just settlements or habitats at different scales, which need to be planned in a way that they are self-sustaining , providing enough job opportunities, training people to use resources wisely and increasing their quality of life.

The goals of a self-sustaining city need to: reduce emissions and traffic, save energy, make the urban landscape a more comfortable place to live in. The systems at all levels, be it social or political needs to be transparent and there needs to be accountability at all levels.

The way the smart cities agenda is being marketed there is no doubt that the real agenda is the need for foreign capital to enter into new territories. This will allow international corporations to invest and operate in sanitized spaces bypassing the multiple complexities that otherwise characterize urban India. Therefore our purpose and goals for smart cities need to be much clearer along with a better understanding of the socio-economic condition of our country. The city needs to be designed wisely, catering to everyone’s needs equally irrespective of social and cultural differences. 

Muse MATTERS is a series of dialogues that as a studio we shall engage in– the purpose of the dialogues is for the studio to discuss matters, ask questions, share lessons learnt and may be in the process we can make a difference. Topics discussed shall not be restricted to the field of architecture and design necessarily; they could be about an experience, a journey, a comic strip and anything in between or beyond. We will use this space to share our thoughts and blurbs.

MuseMATTERS: (Im)perfect Architecture

MuseLAB

Imperfections show up several times in our lives in almost everything we see, use or design. More often than not, we realise, that something we once perceived to be perfect, is probably flawed or obsolete.  Beauty in art is often found in the imperfection it bears. The highly appreciated works of Picasso often disregarded scale and proportion. But when a two dimensional entity transcends into a three dimensional object, is there room for imperfection?

Maybe there is an area where imperfections are welcome.  During the design process, we cherish the potential that imperfection bears in our search for the perfect design solution. We study several ideas, compositions and layouts only to find that they are just not right for the project. Architects generally crave to attain perfection, but even in a completely flawless design, imperfections can creep up in the form of materials and workmanship. As much as architects try to control the execution of a perfect design, there is always room for some imperfections to appear.

Computational methods are used to make architecture more definitive. Even as architectural forms get more free flowing and organic, the need for accurate digital modelling and parametric is on the rise. The contemporary obsession that the world has with digital precision only minimises the chances of imperfections.

An untitled painting by Le Corbusier.   Image courtesy VKV Visuals Blog.

An untitled painting by Le Corbusier. Image courtesy VKV Visuals Blog.

We are surrounded by imperfections -whether it is on a smaller scale like paintings and art or on a larger scale like cities. The discussion then digressed and we -debated on the flaws of an organic city like Mumbai and a city planned to have no imperfections like Chandigarh. Mumbai being an organically developing city; the architecture has emerged out of necessity and not meticulous planning. Every time the imperfections of this city begin to resurface, another layer of architecture and infrastructure is added to meet the growing needs of the city.

(L) Door detail at the Assembly building by Le Corbusier at Chandigarh. (R) High Court building by Le Corbusier at Chandigarh.  

(L) Door detail at the Assembly building by Le Corbusier at Chandigarh. (R) High Court building by Le Corbusier at Chandigarh. 

Chandigarh cannot be talked about without the mention of Le Corbusier and his work. As an architect, Corbusier always tried to bridge the gap between perfection and imperfection. His architecture displays clarity with definitive forms, contrary to his abstract expressions in art. Architecture is paradoxical – and therefore as a studio as well we often try to work through challenges through a rigorous process of continuously massaging the idea by refining it and trying to perfect the imperfect. Ultimately we re-valuate the proposed solutions and try to make balanced and informed decisions.  

Muse MATTERS is a series of dialogues that as a studio we shall engage in– the purpose of the dialogues is for the studio to discuss matters, ask questions, share lessons learnt and may be in the process we can make a difference. Topics discussed shall not be restricted to the field of architecture and design necessarily; they could be about an experience, a journey, a comic strip and anything in between or beyond. We will use this space to share our thoughts and blurbs.

 

MuseMATTERS: Architecture for Humanity

MuseLAB

Our discussion for the week was inspired by Architecture for Humanity (AFH), a non-profit company that provided architectural solutions to humanitarian crises. Unfortunately, early this year the company filed for bankruptcy and closed its headquarters although most of the chapters are still running independently. Which brought us to the question; should a firm that focuses on humanitarian architecture work as a for-profit?

The Re-Build Camp in Jordon.     Cameron Sinclair, who is one of the founders of AFH left the organization and has now started up his own venture which does just that. They tie up with local organizations and non-profits to provide design solutions to the community, for a fee.         Image Courtesy: Archdaily.

The Re-Build Camp in Jordon. Cameron Sinclair, who is one of the founders of AFH left the organization and has now started up his own venture which does just that. They tie up with local organizations and non-profits to provide design solutions to the community, for a fee. Image Courtesy: Archdaily.

We are not sure we have the answers to the question but, true legacy of Architecture for Humanity will be how they helped change the landscape of architectural culture. While one feels a sense of loss at the closing of their headquarters, we would do well to remember the words of Sinclair in his 2013 strategic plan: “Through training, practice, and a deep sense of optimism, architects see opportunities where others only see a void. This has been the driving principle behind Architecture for Humanity since our founding.” So challenges still remain and will continue to arise – by integrating ourselves within the community and by understanding the core issues hopefully architects shall make a change.

A lesser known fact that people outside the architecture fraternity are unaware of: we as architects put in a lot of time and money to be trained as architects and no we don’t bring home the big bucks when we graduate, did I mention the hours we clock in? So if we apply this equation to a non-profit organization, where one puts in twice the time and since it’s a non-profit they don’t get paid. Result: not so feasible when you have student loans to payback or a family to support, unless of course you are either financially stable or a selfless person in which case we are hiring come join us!

Architects have to make sure they are available on site from start to completion of any project so working part time on pro bono projects is not possible without compromising on the quality of the final product. We all recognized that humanitarian work is needed by our society especially with the current state of matters, but we also realize that as a studio we have ways to go before we can venture out on our pro bono project. Perhaps we start on a micro level with a product of some sorts and then move to the macro level of architecture, who knows. What we do know is that we have every intention of doing our part in facilitating a change for the betterment.

Not saying that MuseLAB will change the world (yet), but keep an eye out for us

 Muse MATTERS is a series of dialogues that as a studio we shall engage in– the purpose of the dialogues is for the studio to discuss matters, ask questions, share lessons learnt and may be in the process we can make a difference. Topics discussed shall not be restricted to the field of architecture and design necessarily; they could be about an experience, a journey, a comic strip and anything in between or beyond. We will use this space to share our thoughts and blurbs.

 

 

MuseMATTERS: Digital Manufacturing

MuseLAB

Every few decades or centuries, a new set of skills and intellectual activities become crucial; these often simplify tasks and skills which were previously only accessible to experts. In line with this, our practice agrees that digital fabrication is a new and major chapter in this process of bringing together powerful ideas and expressive tools across diversified industries. This range of accepted disciplinary knowledge has expanded to include not only programming, but now also includes engineering, design and manufacturing.

Image courtesy Maker's Asylum

Image courtesy Maker's Asylum

We decided to further last week’s conversation from digital design to digital manufacturing with a field trip to Maker’s Asylum, a community space in South Bombay with a mission “to inculcate the Maker culture of hands-on learning and creative thinking, a creative platform for creative entrepreneurs to prototype their ideas.” The brain child of Vaibhav Chhabra and Anool Mahidharia, the space offers an array of 3D printers, electronics lab and prototyping tools for woodworking, robotics, bicycle building and repair, rapid prototyping, open source computer-aided design.

 A quick walk through the space exposed us to limitless possibilities of these tools which we could seamlessly apply to the design and fabrication of our in-progress product/ furniture line. We discussed the applications of laser cutter and CNC milling machines only to realise that as much as it facilitates the process of design, each manufacturing tool has its own limitations. For instance, we were debating over the intricate designs of coasters in birch ply that we have been prototyping and concluded that the laser cutter allows us to cut some fine and delicate patterns. However, the finer the pattern, the longer the process and the greater the intensity of the laser – all these attribute to a burnt, smoked finish. CNC milling machines will however, give a cleaner finish but the intricacy of the design is compromised owing to the diameter of the smallest bit of the router.

(L) Top surface of coaster prototypes and (R) Bottom surface of coaster prototypes.

(L) Top surface of coaster prototypes and (R) Bottom surface of coaster prototypes.

All in all, as much as technology facilitates in saving time while innovating, there is always going to be a moment where human intervention will be required - in this case we will have to accept the burnt edges as a characteristic that is a result of the process. To tone down the smoky burntness we will process the new characteristic as a planned characteristic. This shall be done by exploring ways of washing or staining the ply organically with organic colours or vegetable dyes. And yes, there is always a learning curve to align the lateral thinking required to foster creativity and inventiveness.

Muse MATTERS is a series of dialogues that as a studio we shall engage in– the purpose of the dialogues is for the studio to discuss matters, ask questions, share lessons learnt and may be in the process we can make a difference. Topics discussed shall not be restricted to the field of architecture and design necessarily; they could be about an experience, a journey, a comic strip and anything in between or beyond. We will use this space to share our thoughts and blurbs. 



MuseMATTERS: The Digital Age

MuseLAB

Muse MATTERS is a series of dialogues that as a studio we shall engage in– the purpose of the dialogues is for the studio to discuss matters, ask questions, share lessons learnt and may be in the process we can make a difference. Topics discussed shall not be restricted to the field of architecture and design necessarily; they could be about an experience, a journey, a comic strip and anything in between or beyond. We will use this space to share our thoughts and blurbs.  

As we were beginning to think of topics–this week’s matter was handed to us in the form of an invite to speak at an architectural college. The theme given to us was ‘The architect’s role in the digital age has eroded.’  The topic seemed quite open ended and so we decided to debate amongst ourselves and find out.

Architecture as a profession has predominantly focussed on built environments and people. There is a growing belief that in contemporary architectural practice in which digital technologies and tools are gaining prevalence the role of the architect has diminished. Yes, certainly the future of architecture lies in the blurring of boundaries between architecture and all other fields.

Largely we disagreed with the statement as we believe that the architect’s role is not diminishing it is evolving. It is no longer egocentric – it is inclusive and collaborative in nature. Digital tools at hand aid us in visualization and there is a certain precision in the modelling methodology. The statement is frugal-the architect never worked tools free.

There are certainly some set-backs and limitations as there are with most tools. Most architects have moved from the sketching boards and trace sheets. While modelling there are certain limitations within parametric models so some designers avoid exploring certain forms and ideas. In some situations templates are copy pasted directly to projects. Also the process of documentation has changes-the good old process books are disappearing from studios and being replaced by archived CAD files. At the same time some of these digital tools are used to create a stop motion of the process which beautifully captures the design narrative.

Image courtesy Morpholio Trace.     We just discovered this app and look forward to trying it soon. To learn more about it visit http://www.morpholioapps.com/trace/       

Image courtesy Morpholio Trace. 

We just discovered this app and look forward to trying it soon. To learn more about it visit http://www.morpholioapps.com/trace/

 

 

Tools are always going to evolve-how we use them and control them is in our hands. Because digital technology is available and constantly evolving we cannot get regressive-and it is not a necessity. And the silver lining, architecture is a generalist profession, regardless of what happens in the future the possibilities are endless.

P.S. We have pledged to sketch more.