Mumbai's art deco and modern architecture

Posted on April 22, 2019 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

Indian Merchants Chamber

Indian Merchants Chamber was designed by Master, Sathe, and Bhuta and built in 1939

 

Before my trip to Mumbai, I was not aware of that the city has the second largest number of art deco buildings in the world, after Miami. In 2018, the Oval Maidan precinct which showcases 94 heritage buildings in Victorian Neo Gothic and Art Deco styles was lised as an Unesco World Heritage Site. This new status confirms the importance of these historic buildings officially, and subsequently ensures that they will be preserved in the future.

Originally, I had signed up for an Art deco architecture tour led by the team behind the non-profit organisation Art Deco Mumbai, but the tour was cancelled a few days beforehand, so I opted to ramble on my own.

Mumbai (or Bombay) became a global trading centre in the second half of the 19th century, which led to the construction of ensembles of public buildings around the Oval Maidan open space as part of the new urban planning project. The Art Deco movement came to Mumbai in the 1930s and continued up to 1940s. The first generation Indian architects were drawn to its futuristic & modern look, but they added some distinctive Indian design elements which resulted in a style that is referred to as IndoDeco.

 

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Regal cinema

 

There are two conspicuous Art Deco cinemas in this area: Regal and Eros. The Regal cinema was built in 1933 and designed by Charles Stevens, the son of the famous architect F. W. Stevens (who built the Victoria Terminus). The cinema was the first air conditioned cinema in India, so it probably was the 'in' place to go for the English expats living in Bombay at the time. Designed by Shorabji Bhedwar, the streamline Modern Eros Cinema opened a few years later, in 1938, and has a seating capacity of 1,204 people.

 

Eros Cinema mumbai

Eros Cinema

 

When you walk down Esplanade Rd, you would come across some magnificent buildings (though many are likely to be blocked by the constructions of the new metro system) and one of them is the New India Assurance Building. This monumental concrete office building was designed by architects Master, Sarhe and Bhuta, with assistance from artistic designer N.G. Parsare in 1936. This Art Deco style building is clearly influenced by Egyptian and Classical art ( since Egyptian themes became fashionable after King Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered by Howard Carter in 1922) and features some remarkable carved reliefs on its facade.

New India Assurance Building

mumbai art deco

New India Assurance Building

 

Further up the road, I tried to take some photos of the HSBC building but was stopped by the security guard and only managed to take one at the front entrance. This colossal building built in 1942 was designed by Australian architect John Ritchie and assisted by L Palfi combining both Art Deco and Classical styles. The building originally housed the Mercantile Bank of India established in 1853, but it was later acquired by Hong kong & Shanghai Bank in 1959 and now it has become the Head Office of HSBC in India.

 

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HSBC building

 

The Industrial Assurance Building

The Industrial Assurance Building on Churchgate Street was also designed by Master, Sathe, and Bhuta.

United India Building

United India Building

United India Building was designed by Iyengar & Menezes.

mumbai K R Cama Oriental Institute

K R Cama Oriental Institute



mumbai art deco

Designed by Gregson, Batley & King in 1935, Dhunraj Mahal in Cobala was the former palace of the Raja Dhanrajgir of Hyderabad. The prodigious building was the most expensive residential development of its time.

 

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Hornby View building

 

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There are quite a few books on Mumbai's Art Deco architecture, but I came across an illustrated book called Bombay Deco published by Storycity and I bought it because of its colourful and detailed illustrations. The book is a visual celebration of Mumbai's heritage and architecture, while showcasing the talents of the book's Indian illustrator, Tanushka Karad.

 

Bombay Deco

Bombay Deco

 

Besides Victorian and Art deco heritage buildings, there is a mishmesh of interesting buildings wherever you look in Mumbai. The incoherent styles make the city look more diverse and beguiling.

 

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Patterns

 

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Mumbai International airport

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, Mumbai

 

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This post was posted in Architecture, Travel, Architectural conservation, Modernist & Art Deco, Mumbai, India and was tagged with architecture, walks, art deco architecture, Architectural conservation, Mumbai, India

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