The upgradation of the 9 Acre Jawaharlal Nehru Udyan was part of a concerted initiative of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) to upgrade public gardens across the city. This densely wooded garden is wrapped around a single hill and topped by the remnants of the 17th Cent. - bastion of the Sion Fort. The fort was built by the British between 1669 & 1677 on a hillock in Sion to protect the seven islands from the territories held by the Portuguese to the North.
This fort continues to persist in the memory of the city as a "Guardian":
In the past - Guarding the city from external aggressor
Today - From being swallowed up by the city's rapidly expanding Urbanity.
Parallely, Bombay as a city is known for its history of "Breaking Walls", both literally & figuratively. This dynamism and spirit of enterprise eventually led to the amalgamation of the 7 islands.
A fourfold approach was adopted to revitalize this parcel of the City's heritage.
- Historical :
- The Fort & The City
- Historical Significance
- Nodes as Interpretation Of Seven Islands
- Symbology Expressed Through Pictograms & Graphics
- Reclaiming the Hill
- Replanting Local Trees - Shade-giving Trees
- Fruit Trees
- Floral Shrubs
- Arresting Soil Erosion - Planting Ground Cover
- Coco Erosion Control Blanket
- Fruit Trees To Attract Birds
- Floral Shrubs To Attract Butterflies
- Rainwater Harvesting
- Social : As a Place for People :
- Local Community, Students, Seniors, Families, Tiny Tots, School Trips
The proposal aims to interpret the seven islands as seven nodes within the garden. The built forms were to be kept to a minimum to ensure that the intervention in this historical precinct is negligible.
The progression for any visitor from the entrance - the city's edge to the fort on top of the hillock, is in a way a journey to the past via the 7 nodes. The nodes were articulated using simple elements.
- The Curved Wall - a gentle reminder of the fort walls.
- Cubiod Blocks - representing the jetty's along islands for maritime activity.
Node 1 - The arrival court at the entrance is formed by 3 Cuboids Structures marking the city's edge. They house an Orientation Centre - documenting the fort's history, a Food Stall for refreshments, and a Ticketing Kiosk.
Node 2 - is an intermediate pause point before reaching the main level of the garden. The flooring pattern here is made up of Sun Dials - again a symbolic interpretation of entering a time warp.
Node3 - forms the main level centre of the garden with a retaining wall as a back drop. Benches under shade giving trees allow students to use them for study
Node 4 - forms a further extension to this area with an amphitheatre tucked into the hill with a Tensile Roof for shade which can be used for numerous activities.
Node 5 & 6 - along the Circumambulatory Path around the Fort act as look-out points / pause points offering views of the city.
Node 7 - is formed by a Semi Circular Wall which marks the transition to the Fort.
The garden is used by morning walkers, people from the surrounding area, for picnics & by school children to study. The nodes are developed to allow for all these varied activities.
The effort is to engage the citizens of the city so that they revisit & reconnect with a forgotten past.