The mindful approach and sentimental slant that brings a sense of solace to the children of Mumbai slums is a fundamental aspect that sets Magic Bus apart. Rahul Mehrotra, one of the prominent spokespersons for the conservation of urban cities, went to great extents to instill a sense of simplicity and closeness in the users of the NGO. 

A montage of consciously curated material palette mimics the infamous backdrop of the children’s modest abode. Through a design that comprises dormitories, administration buildings, and a dining area, Rahul Mehrotra aims to address the contextual relationship between the kids in Mumbai slums and their eclectic mix of architectural elements.

Magic Bus by Rahul Mehrotra: Capturing the Essence - Sheet1
Recreational courtyard where students interact ©Archdaily

Magic Bus is derived from the name of the bus that transports children from their humble dwelling to witness and experience the simple joys of a pleasant and hospitable environment

Rahul Mehrotra’s firm stance on creating a framework for improving the lives of slum children has been admirably executed on site. The building that exhibits the seemingly mundane aspects of slum dwellings has revolutionized slum architecture from a squalid motif to a more sophisticated configuration. 

Rahul Mehrotra planned the development of Magic Bus by reviving the material palette that includes stone rubble, corrugated metal sheet, and timber. The idea that surrounded the design development was to re-imagine the use of these architectural elements in slum dwellings.

Magic Bus by Rahul Mehrotra: Capturing the Essence - Sheet2
Open air dining that captures the essence of slum dwelling ©Archdaily

Rahul Mehrotra aims to inspire the community by manifesting a creative perspective of the material palette. It generates an inspiring outlook for the slum children to transform their dwelling with an innovative approach. These buildings hold the potential to expand into community centers or training programs that could be absorbed into the slums. 

Rahul Mehrotra has diligently captured the essence of slum architecture, while simultaneously posing questions about the current scenario of slums in Mumbai. It encourages the slum dwellers to draw inspiration from it and refurbish the material palette in a creative demeanor. 

Magic Bus by Rahul Mehrotra: Capturing the Essence - Sheet3
Site plan zoned to accommodate a spatial narrative ©Archdaily

The building exhibits the provision for training and skill development, through which the children can inculcate the values and knowledge gained from it to create a better life for themselves. The children who visit engage themselves in programs like arts and crafts, canoeing, ropes course, hiking, and soccer. Rahul Mehrotra, with his keen attention to detail and ingenious techniques, unveils a new horizon where the children’s dreams and ambitions come true. 

The location of the site emanates a quasi-transcendental atmosphere, which is quite contrary to the drab setting of the Mumbai cityscape. Chirping birds, the rustling of leaves, and the wind in the trees evoke a glistening sense of hope and joy that cannot be emulated elsewhere. The architectural planning implemented by Rahul Mehrotra comments on the stark contrast between the narrow alleys or dingy homes of the children and the spaciousness of the Magic Bus NGO.

The slum children face a lot of challenges and adversities that no child their age should be fretting over. Rahul Mehrotra designed this structure as a ray of hope for these kids to have a fair chance in life. 

In his design process, Mehrotra strives to make use of certain familiar aspects so that the children would not be too overwhelmed by a luxurious or extravagant vista. Rahul Mehrotra initiated extensive research on the psychological aspects of this design and has brought it to life in a prolific manner. A tinge of contemporary elements can also be seen, as it was kept in mind not to form a caricature of the slum lifestyle.

Volunteers are also welcome to be a part of this heart-warming journey to make headway in the educational strategies for slum development. There is a provision for their accommodation, which would give them an opportunity to interact first-hand with the children and come up with new and innovative ideas to transform the lives of these hopeful youngsters. 

The metal roofs capture the sounds of rain and the blue plastic tarps, commonly found in slum areas, shroud the open dining area during monsoon season. Magic Bus is open to children from all walks of life and does not preclude the privileged ones. They get to experience the stroke of the slum lifestyle by eating on the concrete floors or sleeping under a metal roof. Their awareness of the privileged life that they live instills in them a grateful mindset. 

Creating memories with their less fortunate peers can be a transformative experience that would be carried with them for a lifetime.

Rahul Mehrotra is renowned for his calibre to transform the prosaic nuances of architecture into a revolutionary output. This can be widely observed in all aspects of this design and his social stance in implementing this project. 

The moral obligation of architects in community development is often overlooked in the architectural realm. Rahul Mehrotra, with his imaginative and creative approach to design, aims to make strides in the enhancement of slum children.


Julia is a recent architecture graduate from Manipal University. Her affinity to the English language and its underrated power drove her to begin her architectural venture by doing what she loves the most - writing about it.