The Tote by Serie Architects 14.12.09

words Douglas Murphy

A new banqueting hall, restaurant and bar have been completed in the grounds of the Mumbai Race Course by Serie Architects. Part-restoration, part new build, the project features a remarkable structural system for the banqueting wing.

The new digital design and manufacturing paradigm is still in its infancy; parametrically designed roofs still have a tendency to be chunky and inelegant, if formally audacious. In this small project, however, a remarkable level of refinement has been achieved. The main inspiration for the design is the canopy of trees that shadow the buildings and the structure represents them quite literally. This is not new; the tree as figure for structure has an illustrious history, including Laugier’s “primitive hut” and the triglyphs of antiquity; it is also suggested that the naves of gothic cathedrals were inspired by tree canopies.

In this building the laser-cut steel sections create smooth and well detailed arrangements, assembled on site using limited means. However, the final structure carefully conceal the manufacturing method. There is a timeless gothic quality to the roof, which is flamboyant without being frivolous; surely one of best structural evocations of trees yet achieved.

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