Mumbai's streetscape offers a fine flourish of architectural styles that represent Indian vernacular and European influences. The Guide trained its lens on some of these distinct styles that celebrate the city's unique place in India's architectural history
Old Oriental Building was built in the late nineteenth century, and is a Grade-III heritage structure. This is another example of a typical corner building that uses cast iron and wooden frame balconies on its second and third floors. Today, these features seem stylistically irreplaceable because they represent the last of the frontages from the 1800s in this area. The Fountain Restaurant and its sister concern Fountain Dry Fruits, established in 1922 are intact. So are the White House restaurant and the Kay Davy clothiers, remnants of the bygone Raj era.
Standard Building on DN Road. Most buildings along this stretch were largely Neo-Classical, functional constructions with the typical enclosed street-arcade pattern.
Navsari Chambers on DN Road houses arguably the oldest functioning lift in India, supposed to be over a hundred years old!
Seen here is one of the oldest buildings nestled in a sleepy by-lane off Chapel Road, Bandra, the balcony sports railings made from metal with intricate designs. The supporting pillars are made of wood are intact.
The areas of Lalbaug, Parel and Dadar served as the centre of the cotton mill boom in the city. The locality hence comprised of the working class population from these mills which led to several landmarks such as the Chiwda Galli and Mangalore-tiled chawls with unending balconies representing the vernacular influences, even as these structures connect households.
Patterned on the Indian Jharokha style of hanging balconies seen extensively in Mughal architecture, Ready Money Mansion (beside Akbarally’s) off Flora Fountain adds to the potpourri of architectural styles seen in the city.
This building beside Eros Cinema represents the Art Deco style. Quite the opposite to the intricate styles of Gothic and Saracenic variants found on DN Road, this style heralded the modern era with fuss-free simple, stylised structures characterised by linear designs.
Expert speak>> Vikas Dilawari
Balconies formed an integral part of the city architecture due to the climactic conditions, and also because they served as a venue for people to socialise, interact while keeping out the rain at the same time. Like the different architectural styles seen in the city, the balconies too follow a varied pattern — the Art Deco style used concrete, with semi-circular or round projectile ‘chajjars’. Whereas the chawl balconies which you see near Parel used teakwood screens and a vernacular style of louvres (strips of wood) to make the residences airy. In today’s buildings, balconies have disappeared and have been replaced by box grills. These balconies would serve as the skin of the building and would help them breathe.