World Heritage Day: Artists reveal their favourite structure in Mumbai

Updated: Apr 18, 2019, 10:40 IST | Dalreen Ramos | Mumbai

On World Heritage Day, we invite four young architects to reveal their favourite heritage structure in the city

The MCGM Bulding, Fort. Pics/Pranav Naik
The MCGM Bulding, Fort. Pics/Pranav Naik

The news of the blaze in Paris' Notre-Dame Cathedral left many devastated around the globe — drawing comments like "we get it you went to Paris" in response to the outburst of tributes by anyone who went to the French capital.

The cathedral was a UNESCO World Heritage site, and today is World Heritage Day — as declared by the international body. So, we'll leave you with this.

Irrespective of whether you visited Paris, how much of an attachment would you feel if it were to happen to a structure in your own city? On this day, four young conservationists and architects urge you to take a stroll down your neighbourhood.

Municipal corporation building: Aesthetics and access

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Pranav Naik, 34, is a principal architect at Studio Pomegranate, and is presently working on several projects in Mumbai, Goa and Delhi, and a resort in the Andaman Islands. His favourite heritage structure in Mumbai is the municipal corporation building, which was built by FW Stevens. "This building is much simpler in style than the CSMT. Located on the junction of DN Road and Mahapalika Marg, every citizen must go there to see the careful thought put into entrances, easy navigation, and the views out to the city from its beautiful staircases. The courtyard is a sanctuary that takes you by surprise. This should be made accessible to the public. After all, it was built for the citizens," Naik says.

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AT Opposite CSMT, Fort

Art Deco buildings: Decking the city

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Rajjab Mahal is situated opposite Oval Maidan in Churchgate

Neha Parulekar, 31, co-founder of conservation firm ITAHAAS, loves Bombay Deco, particularly structures like Rajjab Mahal, Eros Cinema and Keval Mahal in Churchgate.

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"The style brought in simple line work and clean façades. From the verticality of the glazed panels along the staircase blocks of the buildings, to the curved balconies with panels depicting waves of the sea and local Indian flora and fauna, a visitor must go on this visual hunt to find these elements on the façade. Bringing in the idea of apartment living into the city, the entrance lobbies were also distinct in character with colourful terrazzo stone and marble," she says, adding, "The lifts in some buildings are pieces of art. Finally, the most eye-catching element of Art Deco is the fonts."

AT Marine Drive and Churchgate

Raut bungalow: Secret treasure house

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Raut bungalow was built in 1889. Pics/Suresh Karkera

Mumbai-based architect and documentary photographer Rohit Lahoti's pick is the Raut Bungalow by Gamdevi's French Bridge. Lahoti, who is presently working as a research consultant on an ethnographic project with UChicago Trust and also conducts heritage walks, says, "Built in 1889, the bungalow of the Raut family is the winner of Urban Heritage Award for 1993. Along with the subtlety in the design of this structure, the antique furniture and artefacts in the house are still in use. There are ancient cut glassware and stained glass windowpanes. The grills moulded into Queen Victoria's profile guard the windows of the living room filled with curios that date back to 1889. Six huge chandeliers made of Belgium glass add to the vibrancy of the house. Sunlight dances off the prisms of the chandeliers that were crafted a decade ago."

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AT Off Hughes Road, Gamdevi

Majestic Hotel: Vintage luxe

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The Majestic hotel is an Indo-Saracenic structure

"Facing the Wellington fountain, the Majestic hotel (or Majestic Aamdar Niwas) sits at a historic road junction that beautifully bifurcates into the Colaba Island. The cotton trade boom in Bombay in the 1860s led to the influx of many traders and merchants from overseas. Hence, the demand for luxury hotels increased," conservationist Apoorva Iyengar, 27, who works with the FORT Foundation and CSMVS, tells us.

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Built in 1909 and designed by WA Chambers & Company (who also designed the Taj Mahal Hotel), the hotel is of the Indo- Saracenic style of architecture. "This blends Hindu and Islamic architectural elements, with Islamic pointed arches and cusped arches, turrets topped with domed chattris and elaborate carvings. The black stone and light pink carvings shine softly against the Indian sky. It feels like the building widens as you walk towards it and opens up the streets," she adds.

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AT Apollo Bunder, Colaba

Did you know?

In 1982, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) declared April 18 as World Heritage Day at a symposium in Tunisia. The following year, it was approved by the UNESCO General Conference during its 22nd session.

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