They say space is the final frontier, and in a sense that is true for the real-estate market. In a crowded segment where USPs are hard to fashion, architecture — the planning and designing of space is becoming an important differentiator.
This is true even in Mumbai, where the lack of space has traditionally left little room for architectural flourishes.
Given the city’s space constraints, a lot of the frills have to do with going vertical. So we have sky bridges and sky villas; buildings curved so that each individual balcony serves as an entirely private ocean-view deck; there are also sky gardens and spas; and elevators that open directly into your flat.
“Forts and palaces may be a thing of the past, but recreating the same ambience in a modern city apartment with modern amenities and ensuring that functionality and design blend seamlessly is how developers are seeking to set themselves apart,” says Ashwinder Raj Singh, CEO of residential services at JLL India. “Italian marble alone will not pass for luxury any longer; the way it is used makes all the difference. That is why architecture is becoming so important. There are even projects that will customise your shell home around a theme of your choice — Mughal or Roman, baroque or post-modern.”
In Mumbai, if you have a sea view, you flaunt it. Omkar 1973 Worli offers bespoke sky villas spread over three towers, starting on the 16th floor. Each functions like an independent seafacing home, with its own elevator accessible without going through a common lobby.
“The stress on privacy and space gives it a very exclusive feel, unlike any housing society,” says Amar Tendulkar, president of design at Omkar Realtors.
Each sky bungalow also comes with a ‘European-themed cigar room’ done in wood and leather tones. Other amenities available within the residential project include a spa.
Ajmera I-land, meanwhile, has been designed by Singapore-based architects Space Matrix, with a curved 40-storey structure that makes the most of its views. “The design is such that no flats or terrace decks face each other,” says Dhaval Ajmera, director of Ajmera Realty.
Runwal Elegante at Lokhandwala has a sky bridge, the first in Mumbai, 400 feet above sea level. There is also a sky bridge / sky garden, which connects the three towers at the 37th-storey level.
“It will remind you vividly of the landmark Marina Bay Sands in Singapore,” says Sandeep Runwal, director of Runwal Group. “Another unique element of these bespoke homes is that customers have the option of having their home interiors designed by European designers.”
At the Wadhwa Group’s W54 residential project in Matunga, designed by architect Hafeez Contractor, there are only two apartments per floor, angled so that the home owner can enjoy the sunrise and sunset.
“The 6th storey is the first habitable floor of W54, allowing maximum views to all residents,” says group director Girish Shah.
Businessman Prasoon Bhatt bought a flat in Omkar 1973 and admits that one of the reasons he picked the project is the sense of space created by its architecture. “I have a podium-view apartment that faces landscaped gardens by LDA Design, who did the Olympic Park for the 2012 London Olympics,” he says. “The design of the building is such that all flats also have a sea view.”
THE FLIP SIDE
Don’t get carried away. That’s the experts’ advice when it comes to architectural features. Two things to keep in mind — maintenance cost, and value for money.
“Luxury buyers attach great importance to factors such as exclusivity and brand value, but these also come at a premium — not just in terms of selling price but maintenance costs too,” says Gautam Saraf, managing director of Cushman & Wakefield India. So it is important that you take the overall premium into account while making a buying decision.