Sameer Balvally and Shilpa Jain Balvally

Studio Osmosis

Shop #7, Raj CHS,
Behind Marathe Udyog Bhavan,
New Prabhadevi Road,
Prabhadevi, Mumbai 25.
Tel: 022 2432 1573


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A Diverse Unity

The world famous Italian fast food chain Pizza Express has several outlets in India. Each Pizza Express restaurant has a distinct design element inspired by the local neighborhoods. The guiding principle that governs the design of every Pizza Express outlet is to respect the building, space, history, and uniqueness of each thus driving the personality of each outlet.

The design of Pizza Express Powai was inspired by the peace, tranquility, flora, fauna and the beautiful unique birds around the Powai Lake in the midst of the buzzing and highly developed suburb of Powai/Hiranandani. The clever use of lighting and the elements of design creates an interesting experience.

The  ‘birds sitting on a wire’ concept along the ceiling that has lights hanging to create a warm ambience and a similar reflection. The raw-cut cor-ten steel screen symbolizing the ‘Tree’ (also the Tree of knowledge from IIT Powai) creates an interesting feature at the entrance behind which are cylindrical dynamic- bird lights hanging at different levels assuming flight. It forms an implied partition between the passage and the seating zone directly in front of it. Herringbone pattern wooden paneling,  interspersed with free hanging trusses and the brick wall with beautiful industrial cage lamps, with long filament Edison bulbs impart an industrial yet chic feel to the space and fit right into the IIT/Industrial influence, history and characteristic of Powai. Continuing with the bold, industrial theme, the columns are finished in In-situ cement finish, with the backdrop wall finished in white and industrial grey exposed brick.

The idea of using inspiration from birds came from the diversity of flora and fauna at the Powai Lake.

While the layout is simple and the use of materials imparts an industrial touch, the feature of this restaurant is mimicking the birds sitting on a wire. Lengths of metal rods are suspended from the ceiling with birds welded to it while there is ‘bird lights’ suspended in the central space which adds a dynamic character to the space. The entrance is elegant and bold with its neatly gridded up ‘industrial’ wired and clear glass infill, framed in black aluminium sections with the prominent logo announcing Pizza Express. Warmly lit interiors welcome us into a distinctly industrial flavoured ambience that engages the curious visitor. The 12 feet high expansive open ceiling with all the services painted black along with open style planning gives the space a casual uncluttered look.

The palette of colours used comprises mainly of hues of browns, white, grey, interspersed with aquamarine sofas thus representing the Powai lake and its calmness in the midst of the busy hustling neighborhood. The nature of finishes used, a combination of timber, concrete, core-ten , lend a raw and unpretentious elegance to the ambience while the aqua-greens add to the freshness and calm. The flooring is the patented Pizza Express black,grey and white pre-cast cement patterned flooring giving it a nice casual feel with a chic charater.

While Pizza Express site was a small site of 1800 sq.ft of open dining space, the challenge was to design it in a manner where it does not look over crowded. The use of different kinds of lights gives a warm ambience while not overdoing it. Also, since Pizza Express is an international outlet, it was challenging to maintain the high quality and international standard of hospitality while keeping terms with the local ambience and standards.

 While the patterned cement used on the flooring gives a casual feel to the space; the ceiling is left exposed with a coat of Black Paint in sync the industrial intent, exposing the ducting, acoustics, track lights, fans and sprinkler systems. Columns are finished in In-situ Cement finish; Exposed Brick cladding is painted White and grey. Wooden Trusses are created with a two tone polish which enhances the feeling of being in an industrial warehouse. Solid Wood Paneling in a herringbone pattern adds warmth to the restaurant.

Black Portoro Marble is used in 6” strips on the Pizzaiolo counter which matches the veneered wooden ceiling. While a water jet cut Cor-ten Screen with a pattern inspired from a tree stands at the entrance, the use of Mild steel is in abundance throughout the restaurant. MS hollow tubes are stretched across the restaurant with white doves sitting on it looking at the customers.  Suspended black hollow tubes coined as ‘bird lights’ span in the center space adds dynamism to the dining experience.

Pizza Express, Powai:
CLIENT: Atrium Restaurants India Pvt ltd.
ARCHITECT: Studio Osmosis
Sameer Balvally and Shilpa Jain Balvally (Principal Architects)
Area: 1800 sf
Year 2014
Photography: Sebastian Zachariah