With each passing day, one’s perspective towards their surroundings changes persistently based on every individual’s experience and personality. This change in perspective depends mostly on our knowledge and how much we are willing to learn about the subject. While taking a walk in the neighbourhood, one always looks but forgets to observe the value of the spaces around. Studying architecture makes the bystander stop and observe, and the meaning of the space quickly changes.

In the olden days, architecture was looked at as a physical form of environment people needed as a shelter. Later, structures became a source of expressions like the Taj Mahal – the symbol of love and gratitude. To everyone, the Taj is a marvel but people see the structure as it is beautiful without questioning the designer’s concept, why the white marble was used as a building material, how are the domes designed to give it such a hefty look, how the arches are designed and so on.

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Taj Mahal, Agra_https://www.britannica.com/topic/Taj-Mahal

Architecture not only tells us the story of the monument but also answers the question “why?”. In reality, the creation of such a balanced and marvellous structure was a combination of complex planning and detailed analysis of various factors, affecting the construction of the structure and the immense efforts of the designers to make it stand as it is even today. Over the years the structure has been affected by air pollution and other environmental factors, but progress in science and architecture has been able to help with the restoration, reducing the threat to the monument.  

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Taj Mahal, Agra_https://www.britannica.com/topic/Taj-Mahal

Buildings and Skyscrapers

Having a cup of tea sitting at Marine Drive enjoying the changing colours of the sky and overlooking the sea one can see the skyline of Mumbai city. One would describe the skyline as none other than its skyscrapers.  

From a bystander’s perspective skyscrapers may seem like boxy structures standing tall and still.  

How many times have you been beeped by cars for standing in the middle of the road observing the skyscraper you have been looking at since your childhood realizing it feels different to you now?  

A person with architectural knowledge will try to understand why those particular materials are used, the concept of the structure, the specific architectural elements, the design, and every minute detail about the structure.

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Marine Drive Photographer Atul Loke for The New York Times_ https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2019/10/21/travel/mumbai-art-deco.amp.html

Mumbai is a combination of old iconic charms, modern high rises, and several traditional and cultural spaces. When you look the other way around sitting at Marine Drive you see a set of residential buildings alongside the road. These buildings look like a cluster of structures following similar characteristics. The Art Deco style in Mumbai is a notable architectural feature of the city. In 2018 these buildings were recognized as heritage sites by UNESCO.

In an architectural sense, these buildings depict a specific era that the city experienced during the 20th century. Several characteristics of these buildings are discussed below.

Nautical features

Bombay being a port city the era’s new ocean liners influenced these buildings. As these ocean liners brought the aspect of luxury and grandeur to the city the buildings were ornamented with nautical features such as ship deck type railings, porthole windows, and the staircase block of the buildings replicating watch towers of the ships.

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Art Deco Style – Rajjab Mahal_ Riddhi Surve

Streamlined and Rounded Corners 

Influenced by the physical form of ships, aeroplanes, trains, and automobiles in the 20th century, the buildings were made to look modern and authentic. The rounding edges of the chajjas, the boxy balconies, and the fonts used for the names of the buildings are certain striking features of these buildings.  

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Art Deco Style – Rajesh Mansion_Riddhi Surve
Art Deco Style – Shiv Shanti Bhuvan_Riddhi Surve

Public Spaces 

A public space is an area that is accessible to the general public. People stroll in parks and go to promenades to rejuvenate and release everyday stress. These environments are made for people to socialize and interact with each other and feel the openness of the sky and nature around them.  

Public spaces not only include parks and gardens but also roads, stations, bus stops, and even public toilets. Recently the Yulu bicycles were made available in Bandra Kurla commercial complex for people to have a pollution-free and individual ride from their workspace to the nearest train station. Public also spaces play an essential role in forming the connectivity between the east-west and north-south connections throughout the city. A successful public space generally consists of 4 factors – it should be accessible to all, comfortable to all, it should be social, and provide people with activities. Without the correct understanding and analysis, designing a successful open space is a difficult task. 

Looking up while driving through the Sea Link is something each one of us living in Mumbai has done, but architecture is the science of why the bridge stands strong in the middle of the sea, carrying a load of so many cars throughout the day, supported by the cables and the art behind giving us the feeling of life passing by in full speed. One must have observed that the doors of the garbhagriha are shorter than the doors of houses, but architecture tells us the story behind it. One has to bow down compulsorily to enter a shorter opening which makes one bow in front of the deity showing respect.  

Architecture exists to create a physical environment in which people live, but at its roots, it stands as a representation of how one sees himself and the world.

Author

An architect who is a keen observer and learner towards life. She strongly believes architecture is a cluster of stories expressed in their built form and is eager to explore various cultures and people to unmask their stories. She is best friends with the ones with paws and whiskers.

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