In the past few years, museum architecture has witnessed a drastic shift from being just a storage place for artifacts to a space of synergy with experiential design. And, as the fundamental of architecture is what one felt and not what one saw, this approach towards design can change how one perceives space. The proposed World-Class Bollywood Museum at the Filmcity, Mumbai, is an excellent example of a human-centric design.
The project team includes Shashi Prabhu Architects, Verner Johnson Museum Architects, ZNA / Zeybekoglu Nayman Associates (for landscape design), exhibit-designers Christopher Chadbourne Associates, and Bollywood film expert Pravin Nadkar. The design intent of the museum is spatial storytelling wherein the spaces psychologically carry people to the enchanting realm of the Indian cinema.
Architect Shashi Prabhu believes that architecture is the art of bringing people together and creating a unique experience for them. (Shashi Prabhu & Associates, n.d.) And, the same idea is carried forward by this international competition-winning design proposal wherein the spaces appeal to all the senses of a person.
The proposal is a campus design that consists of the Bollywood Museum, the Bollywood Theatre, Museum Gardens with an Amphitheater, and a Conference Center, where visitors can spend the day exploring and learning about Bollywood films and film-making. With the museum being the soul of the campus and the exhibition areas being the core of the design, the spaces educate the public in an interactive environment.
The Site and The Sight
The Bollywood Museum, located at the very entrance of the Filmcity, Mumbai, beautifully captures the essence of the place. The strategic placement of the buildings on the undulating terrain instills a visitor with a sense of tranquility. The site-terrain surprises the visitor by revealing distinctive and novel manifestations of the built spaces when approached, holding the visitors spellbound.
The museum and site borrow from the Parsi theatrical influence on Bollywood films, which blended realism and fantasy, music and dance, narrative and spectacle, earthy dialogue, and ingenuity of stage presentation, integrated into a dramatic discourse of melodrama. (VernerJohnson, n.d.)
The landscape transforms into terraces of water bodies in tandem with the flowing form of the museum to create an illusion of the buildings floating over it. The organic blend of the built spaces and the un-built spaces creates a poetic and mythical composition capturing the true essence of Bollywood, leading to the harmony of heights, colors, materials and forms, spatial organization, and volumes.
Architect Shashi Prabhu and the team believe that only human-centric designs shall function in any given time frame and stand the test of time. Therefore, the surrounding landscape becomes the extension of the building to generate a complete experience physically and conceptually. The concept of attracting footfall is by the thematic re-creation in the site that persistently generates breath-taking sights for the visitors.
Film: The Museum’s Muse
Museums of any kind do not have a specific character of architecture. They rely on the story it has to tell. Here, the form metaphorically is a series of massive film strips of varying lengths positioned at varying heights. These film strips fabricate the roofs held in their positions through curtain walls making the massive structure appear lightweight.
As architect Shashi Prabhu believes that application of modern technology in harmony with circumstances of a region results in the creation of innovative and original art. (ACE Update, 2019)
The curtain walls are transparent enough to let the light in during the daytime, illuminate the surroundings by blazing light outwards during the night, thereby announcing its existence. The envelope of the building acts as a display media during the night. The flashy, flowing form of the flexible exhibition spaces follows function, feeling, and fascination.
The museum envisioned to be characterized by the collective memory of the users by experiencing a documented series of imaginations, designates the museum an exceptional atmosphere.
The Plot of the Spatial Storytelling
Spatial storytelling is an interactive form of narration of the story plot through the graphic and thematic display in the museum plot. It is the most promising method of storytelling as it offers an experience and not just information. It functions as the core of the design attracting people of all age groups by generating a live experience that any VR device or modern gadgets cannot provide.
And, the spatial design that facilitates a collective experience illustrates the success of the architecture and the architects.
This approach promotes tourism and attracts visitors, which in turn originates revenue. Thus, catering to the needs of all stakeholders of the museum. The team of Shashi Prabhu and Associates strives to offer client-driven and people-centric solutions with their commitment to the technology considering the commercial and the financial aspects of the endeavour. They believe that with globalization and international exposure, the people’s notion of architecture is changing, along with their demands.
Therefore, their vision of delivering world-class solutions using cutting-edge technology is evident in this new World-class Bollywood Museum.
The museum engages the user in the storytelling as the narration is non-linear, allowing the user to become a participant rather than a spectator. The museum uses various exhibition techniques that incorporate enough pause points for the entertainment and the amusement of the visitors. The complex nature of spatial design is simplified through simple movement patterns maintaining the flow of spaces into each other. Simultaneously, ensuring the flow of form between the interior and the exterior allowing visitors to walk over, under, and through the display medium: the building.
- ACE Update. Contextual architecture may see popularity. Expert Speaks, 2019. ACE UPDATE, https://aceupdate.com/2019/01/03/contextual-architecture-may-see-popularity/. Accessed 21 05 2021.
- Shashi Prabhu & Associates. “Homepage.” Shashi Prabhu, http://www.shashiprabhu.com/home.html. Accessed 20 05 2021.
- VernerJohnson – Museum Architects and Planners. Bollywood Museum. https://vernerjohnson.com/, https://vernerjohnson.com/portfolio/bollywood-museum/#:~:text=We%20propose%20a%20museum%20that,the%20heart%20of%20the%20industry. Accessed 20 05 2021.