Mumbai's Art Deco Marvels | A stroll through the city's architectural heritage & evolution
One of Mumbai's underrated treasures is an expansive yet underrated collection of Art Deco buildings, which is the second-largest globally, following Miami, USA. This architectural legacy, featuring zigzags, geometric patterns, and stylised floral designs, now holds the UNESCO World Heritage Sites status as well.
These Art Deco structures, with their use of geometric shapes and materials like stucco, chrome, steel, decorative glass, terra-cotta, and aluminium, offer a unique blend of modernity and classic aesthetics. The structures further showcase the city's evolution and cultural heritage, over the years.
There are approximately 1022 Art Deco buildings in Mumbai, 984 officially recognized by UNESCO, which provide a fascinating glimpse into the past and the fusion of international design trends. Next time you are in or around the areas mentioned below, keep an eye out for these architectural gems.
This Art Deco gem features a unique curved facade with concrete gate pillars that double as light fixtures. Boscoville's design includes overlapping, curvilinear eyebrows to provide shade from the sun, tropical elements like stylized shells and waves in the metal window grilles, and consistent curved ventilators. A geometric concrete grille runs along the upper part of the compound wall, punctuated by pillars with added geometric details.
Shamrock exudes Art Deco elegance with its stucco motif at the entrance, creating visual harmony throughout. The circular motif on the front facade is ingeniously echoed in the terrazzo floor tiles' stepped design. This rectilinear pattern extends to the metal grilles, entrance gate, windows, and even the mullion design on the staircase window, unifying various elements. Inside, the design seamlessly integrates furniture with the structure, exemplified by the terrazzo floor complementing the dining table. Shamrock exhibits a consistent and pleasing design aesthetic, from its exterior to interior spaces.
Wi-Wurri, Santa Cruz
We explore Wi-Wurri in Santa Cruz, just off S. V. Road (formerly Ghodbunder Road). While the name's origin remains a mystery, we suspect it's a playful twist on "Why Worry." Owned by Eric and Simone Mascarenhas, the property proudly bears a plaque from the Eric and Lucy Mascarenhas Foundation. Located in a well-planned neighborhood, Wi-Wurri boasts a grid layout, lush landscaping, and a distinctive elliptical balcony with speedlines. This G+1 storey building exudes Art Deco charm with features like stepped compound walls, a frozen fountain on the metal grill, sleek streamlining, and bold geometric lettering that spells out its unique name.
Due to its alluring, consistently breezy location, the stretch of land along Juhu Beach's shore became a magnet for affluent families. They constructed seaside bungalows and mansions amidst palm groves. Leela, nestled in a white-washed enclosure adorned with bougainvillea, exemplifies this trend.
While the bungalow prominently features Art Deco characteristics such as streamlined balconies and distinctive eyebrow designs with a unique slant, it harmoniously blends these with traditional elements like the multifoil arch, classical column capitals, and lotus motifs. It offers an urban oasis away from the city's hustle and bustle, making it an ideal resort.
Many Art Deco building compound walls were intentionally crafted to captivate observers. These ornate walls directed attention to the main building, which were masterpieces in their own right. The selection of materials and craftsmanship displayed great versatility.
Take, for instance, Rays in Bandra. Its low and dynamic all-concrete compound wall encourages passersby to pause and admire its red-accented sunburst, speedlines, and stepped profiles set against the contrasting beige and light brown bands, offering a striking visual display.