Rug Republic: Behind Heena Bhargava’s iconic project

Architect and Interiors India

The Rug Republic Headquarters in Okhla, New Delhi designed by iGen 2023 Winner Heena Bhargava of Architecture Discipline is a post-industrial expression of exposed steel façade, designed as a reaction to the building’s industrial setting.

‘It’s fascinating to take something forgotten and to give it new life: This is the century of recuperation. There is no space, no forests, no water anymore for continuous production of new things. So, take something old and make it special.’

Emerging from this thought, the design of the Rug Republic headquarters in Okhla, in the heart of New Delhi is a reaction to its industrial setting: an indictment of what we have brought our cities to. The brief presented by the client was to make the existing dilapidated building usable again, within a limited budget and with minimal interventions. Hence, a great emphasis has been placed on reclaiming the usable spaces, by undoing ad-hoc alterations in the building’s spatial layout and removing layers of the flooring that was done by its previous occupants

Shield of safety

All eyes on the prize

Since the building has been designed for one of the largest international exporters of rugs and soft furniture, the idea was to create a bare shell that generates a non-intrusive backdrop to celebrate their exquisite work. This has been enabled using bare black interiors, rebar cage and other inexpensive interventions for the exhibition that offer unfinished aesthetics to the space. Furthermore, the use of temporary interventions adds to a degree of flexibility to the internal layout. The floors are lined using fire bricks to allow ease of removal for re-working in the future.

Intriguing interventions

The building is a reflection of the current time and creates a strong impression with the onlooker. It has been designed as a protective armor offering very little views of the outside, keeping the hostile and acrid environment away. By doing so, it puts forth a pressing question “have we brought ourselves to this? And, even if we have, can we still make it interesting?” Instead of hiding under a veil of glass and granite, the design aims to make a post-industrial statement that would intrigue the visitor. With carefully engineered design interventions, a new life has been leased to the structure and made it pertinent for years to come.