Mumbai’s Gothic master
The buildings at the University of Mumbai’s campus at Fort are not only among the city’s finest but are the best works of their designer, George Gilbert Scott, argues the curator of an exhibition about the colonial architect that will open this week.Updated: Jul 10, 2011 01:05 IST
The buildings at the University of Mumbai’s campus at Fort are not only among the city’s finest but are the best works of their designer, George Gilbert Scott, argues the curator of an exhibition about the colonial architect that will open this week.
Although many buildings in south Mumbai were build in the Gothic Revival style, Scott’s buildings, which include the one that houses the municipal corporation, stand out, said London-based Richard Butler, who curated the exhibition, in an email interview.
“In my opinion and that of many Western scholars the university buildings are easily the best in the city, indeed the best of that entire century,” said Butler, who did his Master’s thesis on Scott’s Mumbai designs and buildings.
The exhibition, which opens on Wednesday at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sanghralaya and runs until August 12, commemorates Scott’s 200th birth anniversary.
Thirty pictures of Scott’s buildings located both in Bombay and in London will be on display. Scott also designed buildings for other British colonies, such as South Africa, Canada and New Zealand.
“But his Bombay works are arguably his best,” says Butler, explaining that it is here that Scott used his favourite Gothic features, such as spiral staircases, deep arcades and tall campaniles, all coming from the Italian Gothic heritage.
Scott, who also designed the gothic fountain at the entrance of St Thomas Cathedral on Veer Nariman Road, never actually visited Mumbai but was sent detailed information about the location, says city-based writer Sharda Dwivedi.
Scott was Britain’s most successful Victorian architect, designing or refurbishing nearly 1,000 buildings. In Britain his most famous building is probably the Midland Grand Hotel, situated on Euston Road in front of St Pancras Railway Station.