And it was Red Mandana!

Mandana is a quartzite stone used for flooring, cladding and similar stone finishing works. It is a chemical resistant hard stone, delivering rich dark red finish subsequent to multiple polishes and is opted for high maintenance luxury stockyards or factories. It is an expensive stone owing to the hard profile of stone making the cutting and stone processing work challenging.

Impressed with this luxurious finish, an architect proposed this stone as the final finish to an institute being built with taxpayer’s money. Being a dark coloured stone, it absorbs light and creates a dark and gloomy ambience in an otherwise lively space, sparkling with students and environment of growth knowledge dispersion.  It makes the space looks smaller and demands for a regular maintenance and in its absence, it starts looking dusky, spotted and tainted.  The strong and tough profile of the stone makes it a heavily demanding exercise to polish the flooring surface and in spite of more concentrated efforts, results in inferior outcomes.

The consultants involved in the project requested the client and architect to replace the Red mandana stone with an alternate finish considering the above listed points, but, under the gravity of the architect’s strong vision of a building jewelled with Red mandana, client shied away from getting involved in the design process and architect continued decorating the building with red mandana. This resulted in a discomforting situation wherein in spite of heavier usage of funds, the flooring finish achieved discomforted the users and added on to the plight of the project managers wherein the time required for finishing and polishing was high and results were a dark, gloomy space.

It leaves me pondering does an architect has a right to override the user comfort with a design idea, or a vision. Today the institute has finally decided to do away with the Red mandana and use an alternate finish in the remaining structure, wherein luckily lot of work pending, but is it how the fraternity functions. An architect is expected to shape the building which shapes the residents using it. Thus the responsibility of an architect is high prior to deciding or zeroing or forcing a design idea/vision onto the face of the client.

I believe before finalising any finish in the building, users’ opinion must be taken while educating them rightly with the characteristics of the finish involved and not decorate the building with red mandana as a personal vendetta of creating a jewel in mandana, as it is not a showpiece but a functional building we are creating.

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