Smart Incorporation Of Passive Design Strategies In The Construction Of Max House, Okhla, Delhi

Smart Incorporation Of Passive Design Strategies In The Construction Of Max House, Okhla, Delhi

Designed by Studio lotus for Max Estates, Max house is a Leed Gold-certified eight-storey corporate campus located in New Delhi's Okhla industrial area. An example of sustainable construction, the project nicely employs renewable and low-impact materials and technology to optimise both energy and water consumption. Read more about this fascinating ecological project in detail below on SURFACES REPORTER (SR) through the details provided by the team.

Distinguishing itself from its neighbours while remaining firmly embedded in its industrial context, the design vocabulary of Max House extends the narrative set by the old Modi Flour Mills in the vicinity and adapts it for a contemporary workspace. An ode to sustainability, resilience and environmental harmony, Max House reflects the sensible sourcing and use of materials.

The premium real estate arm of the Max Group of Companies consists of two multi-tenant buildings placed within a verdant campus. The tower’s façade references the Flour Mills building through its distinctive bands of alternating brick and glass, punctuated by spandrel panels, deep-set balconies and community terraces.

Client's Brief

Max Estates’ project brief concisely emphasized the need for a multi-storey office building that would easily blend into the landscape and nod to its context while aiming to set a benchmark for timeless architecture. 

The client expressed a desire for the building to echo the brand’s underlying design philosophy rooted in sustainability, resilience, and environmental harmony. The building was to be designed in a way that its architecture and interior expression would reflect responsible sourcing and use of materials and unite it with state-of-the-art workspaces and high-performance systems.

Design vocabulary in harmony with the industrial setting

The site adjoins a bustling thoroughfare, sitting across from an east-west metro corridor, and is a stone’s throw from old industrial buildings such as the Modi Flour Mills and the Baha'i House of Worship, an iconic landmark and tourist attraction. This presented an opportunity for the studio to determine the development's overall design vocabulary. 

Since the development is in proximity to the Yamuna floodplain, the high water table meant that soil conditions in the area would prove to be unfavourable for deep excavations. Additionally, traffic impact analyses necessitated the need for a two to three-basement deep vehicular parking, thus posing an unusual challenge for the design team. 

To account for vehicular parking for the eight-storey Block A that was to come up on the site, a parking podium was devised that simultaneously opens up the volume for the creation of a spacious triple-height reception lobby at the ground level. 

The resultant intervention also optimizes vistas — while the reception lobby offers occupants views of lush vegetation flanking the building, the terrace level from the first floor and onwards afford virtually unimpeded views of the Baha'i House of Worship, and the skyline beyond. Moreover, the podium has so been configured, along the building’s northwest, so that its height is roughly the same as that of the adjacent railway colony, thereby maximizing views along this part of the building as well. 

The buildings are planned to create a wide promenade on the ground level, to facilitate vehicular access up to the building line. 

The site periphery, in turn, has been reserved for pedestrian access. This access has been transformed through two primary interventions — the setting back of the site boundary to cede space to the city and the neighbouring traffic, and the softening of the site boundaries through landscaping to enable the greater physical and visual connection between the complex and its immediate context. 

So, the ground floor of the project is primarily allocated for the podium parking spaces, and the first floor features extended terraces, doubling as an elevated park for the users.

Exposed brickwork in the exterior and interior

The design scheme extends the expression of exposed brickwork into the interiors, injecting spaces with a natural, ‘handcrafted’ appeal. While brickwork and glass blocks create the retro-chic approach to the interiors of the triple-height lobby, neutral tones of stone and veneer imbue the surfaces with understated elegance.

The building envelope is designed using a two-pronged strategy to regulate the ingress of heat. The façade is composed of hollow brick masonry, insulated spandrel panels, and double-glazed glass units, significantly lowering operating costs. 

Integration of Passive design techniques

The building features a floor-to-ceiling height of 3.75 metres. The narrow floor plates ensure that over seventy-five per cent of the occupied floor area receives optimal daylight across all building floors. 

Spill-out areas facilitate fresh air circulation to occupied spaces by at least thirty per cent above the minimum rates required by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 62.1-2010. As many as eighty-two high solar reflective index (SRI) tiles will be installed on the roof to minimize the impact on the micro-climate and reduce heat gain and loss through the built volume.

The lift and service cores are positioned along the two ends of the buildings, creating an open, rectangular floor plate that allows for maximum flexibility in terms of use. The floor plate configuration, in conjunction with the facade’s significantly low wall-to-window ratio of 60:40 and shading spandrels to cut down solar glare, significantly elevate the passive design parameters of the building, a unique proposition in new-age office building design. 

The rooftop is designed to accommodate an event space and al fresco dining while providing visitors with panoramic vistas of the surrounding landscape.

A collaboration with ROHA for the precinct’s landscape design aimed to harness existing resources, i.e. native vegetation and water, and mitigate the heat island effect. The interventions include an efficient stormwater management network as well as on-site water rainwater management treatments such as the integration of bioswales, infiltration trenches, rain gardens, bioretention areas, and open grid pavers in hardscaped areas.

Through the integration of passive design principles, use of renewable and low-impact materials and technology to optimise both energy and water consumption, the building has received a LEED GOLD certification.

Project Details

Typology: Commercial (Multi-Tenanted Building)
Name of Project: Max House
Location: Okhla, New Delhi
Name of Client: Mr. Analjit Singh
Name of Client’s Firm: Max Estates
Design Firm: Studio Lotus
Design Team: Sidhartha Talwar, Ambrish Arora, Rana Shil, Subrata Ray
Site Area:33,272 sq.ft.
Built-Up Area: 1.4 lakh sq.ft.
Photographer: Noughts & Crosses LLP

Products / Vendors 

Glass: Saint Gobain
Concrete: RMC India
Sanitaryware / Fittings: Duravit
Flooring: Stone – Stonex ; Tile – Dream Home
Furniture: Mangrove Collective
Air Conditioning: Febo Engineering
BMS: Siemens
Lighting: Vijay Technical Services & Construction Pvt Ltd
Paint: Asian Paints


Structural: NNC Design International
Mechanical / Electrical / HVAC / Plumbing: Abid Hussain Consultant
Landscape: Roha Landscape Architecture & Planning
Lighting: Lirio Lopez


Interiors / Structural / Civil: Suri Construction Company
Mechanical / HVAC: Febo engineering
Electrical: Vijay Technical Services & Construction Pvt Ltd
Plumbing: DD Pradhan
Façade: Pranav Door & Window Pvt Ltd

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