New York, Dharavi and Art Deco
I find this article fascinating and depressing at the same time. One more Dharavi slum redevelopment scheme is in planning stages. And to top it off, its gonna be designed on Art Deco styles. Whoever makes such decisions ??
Mukesh Mehta, the head honcho in charge and the person quoted in the article wants to revive the history of the city. What makes him decide that Art Deco is the one thing that’s worth reviving ?? Why not build everything like the Bassien Fort, or Chimbai Village ?? OK, enough of sarcasm on my part. You get the point.
It’s crazy to just imitate a period of history in architecture because it was successful at that time.
It brings back the point I make last week about how we are slowly and steadily lagging architecturally.
Read the article ahead and make up your mind.
How New York could see its reflections in Dharavi
Art Deco will be the architectural style of the rehabilitation buildings when the Rs 10,000-cr makeover of Asia’s largest slum takes off
Style statements couldn’t be further apart than the Empire State Building, New York, and Dharavi, Mumbai. Yet, they could soon speak the same visual language–Art Deco, the style fashionable in the 1930s and 1940s and which gives Mumbai’s Queen’s Necklace its elite apartment buildings.
And, while many officers of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority–it is undertaking the Rs 10,000-crore Dharavi Redevelopment Project–might not fully appreciate the nuances of Art Deco or its evolution, the government body’s Expression of Interest documents that are to be released very soon anyway mention it as the design form developers are to adhere to. While the buildings comprising the free sale component can define their own style, all the slum rehabilitation buildings are to follow Art Deco’s horizontal lines, geometric patterns and streamlined appearance.
”For one, we wanted one language binding the suburb,” says Mukesh Mehta, project management consultant for the project. ”And it’s an attempt at reviving the history of the city.”
After all, Mumbai has some of the finest examples of Art Deco buildings–all of Marine Drive, Regal Cinema, just-restored Metro Cinema, now multiplex Metro Adlabs, and several sea-facing buildings along upmarket Warden Road.
Mehta says the SRA wanted to steer clear of the general ”bastardisation of architecture” and the vulgarity of most slum rehabilitation buildings. ”And the masters have accepted Art Deco as a great style,” he says.
Explaining what the Art Deco style comprises, conservation architect Abha Narain Lambah says it refers to a period, inspired by the machine age of the 1930s, characterised by a lot of work on the corners, use of modern concrete technology and borrowing some elements from Egyptian culture, since Tutankhamen’s tomb had just been discovered in that period, alongside several successful Egyptian archaeological excavations.
While the Miami style of Art Deco is mostly defined by horizontal lines, the New York style is vertical, with steps like in the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Centre or Mumbai’s Metro Adlabs.
”But I’d say if somebody loved Art Deco, maybe they should help revive the fantastic, original Art Deco examples we have in Mumbai, rather than create a pseudo Art Deco,” Lambah says. ”New buildings have a new context and I’m not so sure about replicating a style from another period.”