The Act of Quad transforms an 80-year-old cattle shed in Mumbai into its office

Waste Watch

Mumbai-based design studio The Act of Quad initially garnered attention for its visceral objects crafted with clay and paper mâché. Its first commercial products were a set of three anatomical pieces that take the literal forms of a pair of human feet, a single ear, and an oceanic tentacle.

perforated screen on outside of building
The 200-square-foot stone structure in Mumbai briefly functioned as a public micro-library but is now an office for architecture firm The Act of Quad (The Fishy Project)

exterior of The Act of Quad design
The renovation retains 70 percent of the preexisting plinths and walls (The Fishy Project)

It all began in 2019 when close friends Priyanka Itadkar and Falguni Bhatia decided to launch their practice during the pandemic while working from the confines of their homes. “We had no projects at the time, just a real hunger to design,” recounted Itadkar. “I asked my father, who is a sculptor, if we could use his workshop to experiment with materials and he agreed,” she laughed.

The semi-open porch is wrapped in perforated metal screens on three sides (The Fishy Project)

Since then, the architect duo has completed several residential makeovers, always preferring to design everything from the broader spatial layout to the curtains and soft furniture. “We rarely outsource anything in our projects because repurposing leftover material to create objects for the space really excites us,” said Itadkar. “We try our best to minimize wastage this way and spark some joy.”

objects located around the office space
Visceral objects and sculptures pepper the office, a nod to the firm’s beginnings (The Fishy Project)

pitched roof
The architects extended the new pitched roof over an existing veranda attached to the structure (The Fishy Project)

In 2023, The Act of Quad converted an 80-year-old cattle shed located in Mumbai’s bustling Ghatkopar area into its own office. The 200-square-foot stone structure had briefly functioned as a public micro-library but was abandoned for 30 years afterward. The shed’s owner approached Itadkar and Bhatia to make the space suitable for renting as a temporary storehouse. The architects, however, saw the potential of transforming it into a functional workspace for themselves—all while retaining seventy percent of the original plinth and walls. They raised the height of the ridge from the original 9.5 feet to 12 feet and extended the new pitched roof over an existing verandah attached to the structure.

blue tile flooring
A blue-tiled floor breaks up the pristine white interior (The Fishy Project)

a skylight in the office for The Act of Quad
A skylight lets plenty of natural light into the workspace (The Fishy Project)

“The veranda is where we have our lunch and catch some air,” Bhatia, describing the semi-open porch now wrapped in perforated metal screens on its three sides. “The screens give us the privacy we need during the day and the space itself acts like a buffer from the street. In the evenings when we turn the lights on, the veranda glows like a large, outdoor lantern.”

built-in storage and shelving
Built-in storage and open shelves house objects of inspiration in various forms and sizes (The Fishy Project)

a frosted mirror with blue flooring
A frosted mirror lends a surreal touch to the space (The Fishy Project)

The interiors are finished in pristine white, almost like a blank thinking board for the studio’s creative ideas. Fresh punctures in the walls and a skylight covered in clear polycarbonate let plenty of natural light in, eliminating the need for any artificial lighting during the day. Objects of various forms and sizes are carefully placed on the shelves, the custom-made working table, and the blue-tiled floor.

person working at a desk
The studio is anchored around a work table that was custom-made (The Fishy Project)

worktable with chairs
Around the work table, chairs are topped with a metallic finish (The Fishy Project)

With the new-found love for breathing fresh life into existing buildings with a bit of history, The Act of Quad is currently renovating a duplex apartment in Mumbai built in the 1970s. The studio is continuing the hands-on approach that gave birth to its very first designs. At the same time, the architects are fine-tuning their process that seeks to bring old memories into refurbished spaces. “When designing the interiors for our Out of the Blue project, we were challenged with recreating the calm atmosphere that our client had experienced at a wooden cottage in Shimla,” shared Itadkar. “We achieved this by finishing the master bedroom with light, birchwood ply that lends warmth and softness to the space. It’s all about being able to remember your best moments”.

Perforated screens soak in light yet retain privacy from the street (The Fishy Project)

Alongside object and interior design, the studio is gradually leaning toward advocating for the reuse of abandoned structures in Mumbai. For a city that is grappling with issues of density and sky-rocketing real estate prices, salvaging what already exists is more than smart—it’s crucial.