In a city where development plans are fragmented and contradictory; controlled by a real estate agenda, open spaces play the victims. Mumbai is the city of dreams as long as you’re comfortable dreaming from the confines of a 70 sq.ft excuse of an ‘apartment’. In terms of space people have developed the unhealthy belief that ‘Less is good enough’.
Ballard Estate is the picturesque ode to London in India, hosting Neo – classical architecture of a bygone time. What most people don’t know is that It also houses four courtyards tucked away between its perimeter blocks, away from prying eyes and behind wrought iron gates that always remain chained. These are the remnants of public spaces envisioned by George Wittet under the Raj. What they’ve become now are inaccessible spaces that serve as impromptu dump yards.
Some people would find themselves drawn to the wide-open alleys behind those gates that seem to lead to places their eyes can’t reach. Now imagine those gates were open and those alleyways were laden green with the occasional dash of hues of wildflowers; imagine that path leading further in till you find yourself in an open green court where you can lie back on the grass and…just breathe. Some place away from the greys of your work desk and office. A place with greens and a little pond with a new art installation you don’t quite understand, that changes every few weeks. Something to talk about with a friend while sitting on one of the wrought iron benches and sharing lunch during a break. Watching the shimmering reflections of other worldly street lamps on its surface.
Even when the gates close again in the evening you find yourself on a wide-open sidewalk uncanny to the city streets, a place to sit down and relax after a long day at work. A little library across the street where you can borrow a book from before you catch a bus back home.
Designing to accentuate and revitalize a public space that had been disconnected from the public realm over time. All the while respecting the heritage inherent to the precinct.