Architecture is perception to our faculties. It can be felt associatively or empathetically which essentially means you can either deconstruct it intellectually or feel emotionally but never remain detached. I am going to attempt explaining these words in the coming paragraphs.
Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB) was set up with the objective of establishing necessary infrastructural facilities for promotion of export of diamonds including diamond jewellery from India eventually making India an International Trading Centre for Gems & Jewellery. The mixed-use development to accomplish this is about to get completed at The Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC). The Bourse Complex is spread over an area of 20 acres. The total constructed area is 2 million sq ft and development consists of 8 buildings of 9 floors.
By and large, this expansive development remains monotonous and instantly instills a sense of industrial boredom every time I have passed by and I think about the fatigued and insipid effort that has gone behind it and I wonder, what gives? Serenity and banality are two different things in architecture. In, BDB, it is pure banality that has overtaken and can be easily misunderstood as harmony of order. But there is a visual discomfort in its collective presence.
Large glass façade of BDB, intermittently broken with slightly taller towers do not exude grace. Building’s average lifespan stretches for 50 to 60 years and unlike a work of art or literature that we don’t like, we may well see a work of architecture every day, whether they serve as a background or foreground to the skyline.
BKC’s skyline is a nascent one, so there isn’t much scope to ruminate over what the aspirations of this business district are. Development pace allows newer styles and materials to seep in, in building styles. Buildings are inherently expected to remain timeless during their lifetime with respect to style and justify their presence in more convincing ways.
In that sense, BDB strikes you in your gut like a morose mechanical development and much remains to be desired and the truth is that it is here and now alive and we have to live with it for few decades. It can’t be undone, not in near future. That is the fate architecture presents you with.
So far, BKC skyline leaves much to be explored from architectural perspective. To this point, the one that stands in my mind is Platina building, despite it being slightly old; its play with location, sense of geometry and proportion still communicates elegance, which its newest immediate neighbour building Sofitel has failed quite miserably. This proves to me that elegance and timelessness in buildings are quite detached with rapid technological advances. Even if we consider the latest building the Capital and compare it to Platina, much remains to be desired from the Capital. It sure is grand and dramatic but leaves me empty. The future may hold a more dramatic and vanity-driven building and it may render the Capital glass box majesty trailing.
Coming back to BDB, it has lessons in its making. Large doesn’t mean it should have been thoughtless and expansive doesn’t mean it should have been lifeless. For now it remains, a study of a part that belongs to a larger scheme of things of upcoming Bandra Kurla Complex, of what is working and what is not.