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When Mumbai was Bombay!

Thursday, August 27, 2015
By Priyanka Bhatt

On Wednesday, known architecture and heritage conservationist Brinda Somaya held a lecture at the CSMV museum in South Bombay. Her company Somaya and kalappa consultants has restored many landmarks. Her latest project is restoring IIM ahmedabad, which according to her is a first time a 20th century architecture being restored. Bombay restoration project by Somaya that focuses on not only conserving the heritage,but also showing Mumbai in a new light. Somaya, in her lecture, mentioned that Mumbai is being populated by the day and estimated that 700 million indians by 2050. According to her data, Every minute 30 indians are leaving their rural homes to settle in urban India which is ever-growing in terms of population and culture. This might be the Largest movement of people from rural to urban setting the world has ever seen.

"I Grew up in South Mumbai and there has been a huge change in the city and the way it looks. The last 30-40 years, especially have changed the outlook of people towards the city," Somaya said Somaya mentioned rare facts that not only architectures would love to know but might be treasured by Mumbaikars themselves. "as everyone knows, Fort walls were built to protect, broken to expand into a larger area. Many areas came up after the walls broke and that is Mumbai as we see it now" Somaya said. She also informed that The Old yacht club was sliced in half give to dept of atomic energy department but because of few people working there objecting, it stayed the way it is. They wanted fo bring down entire bldg. was meant to be a museum but hasnt been open to public.

Nostalgia is always attached to those who have lived in Mumbai but to Somaya if is also important to understand aspirations of the young, and their vision of an ideal city Trying to conserve heritage. Among the Prominent architectural wonders present in south Mumbai that were highlighted were St thomas cathedral, Rajabai tower, TCS house and old yacht club, and how Somaya went about restoring them. 10.000 listed monuments. Interventions become problem but have to restore the cathedral. TCS house in bad state and restoring it eas a challenge but still with effort Somaya and her company Rebuilt the building.

Rajabai clock tower was a highlight in her lecture. Raj Bhawan was suggested at colaba point. But, Subsequently the planning changed. "Mumbai Could have been a different city if the plannings had stayed the way they were," Somaya said.

In one of the challenges restoring Rajabai Tower, the clock had to work throughout the project. It took 5 months to only reach the scaffolding to the top. It took her company 6 years for a Comprehensive restoration of the iconic landmark. They restored from a height of 280 feet, while a Workshop built at 190 feet inside the tower.

" during restoring process of mumbai university library, Gaslines lit chandeliers. The gasline ran through roof and we had to make sure that essence was retained and yet we had to remove the gaslines. Amount of details that went through every part of the building" she said.

She also beautifully stated that If we dont preserve the past we dont have a future.

In the newly restored what was formerly known as Prince of wales museum and now is CSMV museum,  was once a textile gallery. It was made in 1854 and has been a known structure to the city. While restoring Somaya'a company as well as CSMV authorities carefully planned its new avataar. They have used various color patterns to show various sections. Like purple for the royal wardrobes of kings and yellow to show the childhood elements. Red to show the religious artefacts and pink for the interactivw section in the museum. Architecture and the science that goes behind it is amazing beyond one can imagine.

Her objective while restoring the heritage buildings of Mumbai is Trying to make next generation look at the bluidings with as much pride as the old generation sees it.

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