South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre, New Delhi, India

South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre (SAHRDC) es una organización no gubernamental que tiene por objeto investigar, documentar y difundir información acerca de los derechos humanos.La SAHRDC es una oficina pequeña con recursos limitados, que tiene también un programa de pasantías para atraer a estudiantes de universidades de la India y del extranjero. El encargo es para construir una nueva oficina en una parcela de 50 m2 poniendo el énfasis en la eficiencia espacial y en la economía del costo de la construcción.

South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre (SAHRDC) is a non-governmental organisation which seeks to investigate, document and disseminate information about human rights. A small office with limited resources, the SAHRDC also runs an internship programme attracting scholars from universities in India and abroad. It required an office to be made on a 50 sqm plot emphasising spatial efficiency and cost effective construction.

Sustainable design response
Engaging the street
Although some fortification against the busy street was required, it was crucial for the façade to “converse” with the external activity. The external wall is conceived as an animated, dynamic skin reflecting the bustle of the street and activating what would otherwise have been a mundane façade with minimal fenestrations.

Breathing thermal barrier
To maximize the efficiency of the floor plate the staircase and toilet stack are situated at the edge of the building. This non-air-conditioned area on the west side acts as a buffer to reduce solar thermal gain. By situating the staircase and toilet stack in this bay, the internal workspaces are protected. The porosity of the wall ensures that the buffer bay is well ventilated and yet shaded so as to reduce the amount of heat transmitted to the workspaces.
Inspired by the intricately patterned traditional South Asian brise soleils, a single repeating brick module has been used to create a visually complex pattern.

Dynamic skin – innovative use of brick
The flanking wall is conceived as an animated, dynamic skin that reflects the bustle of the street while its porosity playfully engages with the street corner.

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A six brick module is laid in staggered courses that create twirling vertical stacks and an undulating surface. The construction of the screen wall was a result of a five-week process devising masonry techniques on site. From verification of plumb-line to the structural bonding of the brick courses, methods of brick-laying were devised through deep on-site collaboration between the masons and the architects.

Through computer modeling, the architects realized that a simple rotating module of bricks would create the kind of visual and textural complexity needed to achieve the design objective of engaging the street corner. To begin with a six brick module of bricks on edge was devised for the construction of the wall. This was so that the module would cubic in shape and therefore directionally inert. Bricks were laid on edge so that the voids created by missing bricks would substantially contribute to the porosity in the central portion.

A single vertical stack was built and rebuilt five times on site with both the architects and the masons trying to co-strategise on a simple and practical brick laying technique that could be replicated by the various masonry teams without relying heavily on the individual skills of a master mason.

The floor slabs were cast at floor-to-floor heights of 3180 mm. This was distributed over two sets of continuously repeating 6 module course patterns so that the 1st, 7th and 13th course are the same. A set of 6 individual course drawings were prepared in studio and the angle of rotation between them calculated. From these, sets of triangular wooden wedges were made and distributed amongst the masonry teams. They were used by the bricklayers to verify the orientation of the bricks while laying them.

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The horizontal interlocking between modules essentially happens through the cross-stack overlapping of the central bricks in the modules. In the porous central portion of the façade, brickwork is reinforced horizontally by a laying a thin section (95mm X 125 mm) reinforced cement concrete beam along the cavity created by the missing central brick.

Space and cost optimisation
– Efficient Space utilisation is achieved by creating a single consolidated volume on each floor to be flexibly partitioned as per the client’s requirements. This volume is serviced by a flanking buffer bay of a single flight cantilevered staircase and a toilet stack.
– Costs were minimised by using exposed brick construction and by creating a beamless soffit at every floor. To create a beamless soffit without increasing the thickness of the slab, a gently vaulting roof was designed.
– Lateral inverted beams were introduced and flooring laid onto an infill so that each floor plate was insulated eliminating the need for a false ceiling.

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