Gurnani Dikshaa Ishwar Pooja


Coalescing the Threshold

Mumbai is one of the largest cities in India and the public open space in the city today is 1.24 sq.m./capita. We can increase this number significantly if streets are treated as public spaces. For this purpose, a unique corridor is identified in the city that is a Heritage and market corridor. The street shall be facilitated with the seeds of social and ecological activation that shall create an inclusive public space. The corridor is a threshold between the Native town of Bombay (Original Inhabitants) and the White town of Bombay (Built by the British). It forms a clear line of difference between the north and south district. Multiplicity and plurality are the characteristics of the street. The importance of the street on the city level lies in its heritage value which it gets from the Crawford Market, Mumbai Police Headquarters, etc. The project intends to “Coalesce the threshold” and “envisions a corridor for a liveable tomorrow”. It strengthens the Heritage value of the street and connects the users to the larger market precinct. On a small-scale weave, market spaces shall be reorganized for the expansion of the shopping street.  The interventions adapt to the existing built environment to mitigate air pollution.  These, in turn, shall “Coalesce the threshold” and make it memorable.

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Mumbai has grown linearly from South to North. Three major roads connect the western, central, and eastern parts of the city, respectively. These major roads and the link roads that connect them, and various typologies of corridors are located on the map. The character of these streets is studied by looking at their edges and the network pattern.

LT Marg, where Crawford Market is the major landmark, is a destination and a thoroughfare. The importance of LT Marg in the route is studied concerning travel time and traffic density on the larger network. To analyse the street further, its edges are categorized into five types, based on the physical and visual accessibility to the shops. The northern edge is more of a porous nature. The sections show the characteristics of the edges along the Native town and the White Town.

The corridor has a significant Heritage value. It is characterized by overcrowding, theft, unmanaged waste, heavy vehicular traffic, and poor air quality, leading to pedestrian-vehicle conflict and accidents. There are opportunities to increase pedestrian activities on the market streets, urban greening, waste management, strengthening the heritage value, and enhancing user experience. The corridor is envisioned to develop the “Street as a memory of the threshold”.

To create a memorable threshold, a Four-point Strategy is proposed: STRENGTHEN-ADAPT-REJUVENATE-CONNECT. Each of these is in accordance with the heritage value of the street and the precinct and the street edges. Based on the significant user groups observed on-site, the program is developed.

Introduction of outdoor exhibits as seen in ‘Street edge D’ and pause points shall “strengthen” the heritage value of the street. To “rejuvenate” this edge, interactive spaces such as flea markets and food plazas are introduced, as seen in ‘Street edge B.’ The node is unified so that it develops a strong physical and visual “connect” between the Native town and White Town.

For the organization of the street, decongestion, and to avoid pedestrian-vehicle-hamalis conflict, a distinct service and bus lane are introduced. Responding to the type of facades facing the street and the existing land use, Food plazas are proposed at places where there are existing food joints, cafes, or restaurants. Spaces for open stalls are allotted to create organized market spaces.

On this node, four plazas overlook the junction and a visual connection is developed between them. All seating areas are oriented towards Crawford Market. Outdoor seating and exhibition panels direct people’s movement towards Crawford market and Pedestrian street market. These exhibits educate people about the history of Mumbai Police, Crawford Market, and the era when segregation was enforced between the Indian & British settlements, thus developing a historical connection.

The light paving i.e., shades of grey, shall create a subtle frontage to Crawford market and shall be contrasting to the intricate facades on either side. The cast iron totems that have a connect to the threshold and its history, shall enhance the heritage walk and shall unify the node. The planting shall give a unique character to the street throughout the year and a warm colour palette shall compliment the building façades. It shall also help reduce pollution and people shall be made aware of the pollution in the city.

An avenue of Erythrina indica is proposed to demonstrate a splendid seasonal variation. It creates a semi-symmetrical avenue, gathering focus towards Crawford Market. In the morning, the transit plaza shall be a thoroughfare and the seating areas will not be much used. In the afternoon, other plazas will be activated and the plaza serves as a congregational space and resting point. In the evening, the plaza is occupied by spectators and people appreciating the building, lights, etc., and viewing the light and sound show.

The node is a multipurpose place that invites many people and activities. Spaces that support these activities are proposed on the corridor to make the threshold memorable. Architectural landmarks like Crawford market and such threshold streets are identified in the larger market precinct to develop multipurpose unified plazas. Such heritage and market corridors are identified in the city, where this corridor can be repeated as a prototype, to enhance the user experience.