Marine Drive to Dadar to Matunga: Take a virtual tour of Mumbai’s Art Deco treasures
Art Deco Mumbai started as a social media platform in 2016 to showcase the unique architectural style. Recently, founder Atul Kumar launched a website to offer comprehensive information about this aspect of the city’s heritage.art and culture Updated: Aug 03, 2017 09:21 IST
If you have watched a movie at Regal or Eros cinema theatres in Mumbai, you will have noticed their unique architecture. Among other features, the buildings have geometric patterns (saucer-like turrets), maritime elements (waves, ship deck-style railings, porthole windows), rounded balconies and nameplates in stylised, all-capital fonts. You are almost transported to a different era.
These structures are some of the best examples of Art Deco design, a style of architecture that originated in Europe and the US in the 1920s, but also influenced Mumbai’s architects. Such structures can be spotted at Marine Drive (which has 34 Art Deco buildings in a row), Dadar Parsi Colony, parts of Matunga and public buildings like BEST Bhavan at Colaba and CCI club at Churchgate. Significantly, the architects incorporated local imagery as well in some of the buildings (such as the New India Assurance Building).
With (approximately) 200 Art Deco buildings, Mumbai is believed to have the second highest number of such structures after Miami, USA, and was nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site earlier this year. To draw attention to the Art Deco heritage of Mumbai, city-based finance professional and conservationist Atul Kumar created an Instagram page last year, followed by a Facebook and Twitter page, to raise awareness about the city’s heritage.
Mumbai isn’t the only city to boast of Art Deco structures. Delhi (The Imperial Hotel, Connaught place), Chennai, and Jaipur (Raj Mandir Cinema) also have such structures. “But our focus remains Mumbai due to the sheer density of Art Deco buildings,” says Kumar.
The friendly facade of Soona Mahal hides this rich black teak staircase inside, which descends into darkness. No tiles, mosaics or colour. The Penguin or Darth Vader could emerge. Take your pick or choose your own. #explorethedarksideoftheforce #artdeco #artofvisuals #architecture #staircase #agameoftones #dark #tone #artdeco #mumbai #hell #explorethedarkness #batman #starwars
“Mumbai has a diversity and complexity of Art Deco architecture unique to the world, which finds no mention or recognition in the national or the international map. Hence, we decided to start off as an anonymous Instagram page, to essentially just showcase the Art Deco structures in Mumbai in a visually engaging manner,” says Kumar.
A year on, he has launched a website to offer more extensive information. The site features around 100 structures, including residential buildings, cinemas and schools. There are sections devoted to research, history, conservation, a gallery of structures, and even an interactive online map to help you spot Art Deco buildings.
Work on the project is ongoing and Kumar and his team (consisting of architects/conservationists, urban planners, social media experts and photographers) are documenting more neighbourhoods and adding them to the inventory.
Visit artdecomumbai.com to find out more about the Art Deco structures of Mumbai.