Per-forma Studio, a New York based architecture practice run by architect Sarika Bajoria, has recently been garnering attention for all the right reasons. The practice which started in 2010 remains young and I anticipate better amalgamation of ‘East and West’ sensibilities if there is a distinction between the two.
India’s case is new and its challenges unique and thus there has to be greater importance towards contextual architectural aspirations. Not to mention, it’s exhilarating times for India and we will see a great deal of stimulating, disturbing, provocative and promising built spaces. Indian stable sensibilities have never been ruffled to this extent and its not necessarily a bad thing. This great fertile time can be a great period of reinvention in terms of architecture. Thus, practices like Per-forma Studio who have exposure to more than one area are hoped to go beyond the narrow vision of architecture and push the envelope of excellence.
Per-forma Studio has embarked on designing a mixed-use development called The Great Eastern which is spread over 8.6 acres of previously textile mill land located in the heart of the City, Mumbai. The development will include retail, hospitality, lifestyle and entertainment spaces. The conceptual designs of the hotel are out and the design has attempted to bring in ‘spinning and weaving’, the site’s original purpose of textile mill that it was.
This 8.6-acre development is split in two phases and first phase includes 2.2 acres of mixed used of overall area that spans of 600,000 sq ft. In addition to the hotel, the development will also include a clubhouse, high-end retail, restaurants, cafés, and spa, giving it a holistic spin.
The form of the hotel is undulating and fluid. As Sarika says: “The intertwining of the new and old, modern amenities and sanctity of undisturbed nature, relaxation, shopping, entertainment and luxury within the design and vision for the development creates a unique visual and holistic experience.”
She further explains: “A strategy of analyzing solar radiation performance in conjunction with developing building information modelling systems was taken to develop an intelligent and sustainable facade strategy that responded to solar heat gain and visibility. Sun insulation analysis data informed the shift in the WWR (window-wall ratios) of façade.”
This brings me to a point that has constantly troubled me about Mumbai as a built environment professional. Of these attempts, of creating islands of sanitized developments, however serious, where most of the mixed-use are attempted in such a way that sum of all pieces gives a fragmented understanding to a holistic city precincts.
Even moving forward, I haven’t seen a larger public dialogue on this issue amongst urban design fraternity and government authorities. This is worrisome to a large extent because Mumbai is still not serious about creating a relevant big picture of a masterplan of the city. Thus, it would be unfair to put the burden only on architects and designers to reform complex political and economic realms through architecture aspirations alone.
Images courtesy of Per-forma Studio