The Marine drive is one of the prominent landmarks in the city of Mumbai. In the year 1994 a portion of the footpath caved in leaving 2 x 3 x 3 Mt. deep crater. Concerned members of the "The Nariman Point Churchgate Citizen Association (NPCCA)" approached the MCGM to fix / repair this in order to ensure safety of all the users.
Closer inspection revealed that the sea had breached the double layered retaining wall along the sea-face. Tidal action had resulted in the gradual erosion of the sub-base which had ultimately resulted in the cave-in. Remedial measures involved checking the entire length of the retaining wall and scaling of all such breaches, thereafter filling & restoring the sub-base and finishing the top. Installation of additional tetra-pods was recommended to control / reduce the impact of tidal waves on the retaining wall.
In order to achieve this the MCGM decided to involve a corporate sponsor and M/s. Reliance Industries Ltd., readily agreed to step in, The corporate did not wish to limit itself to just structural repairs and saw an opportunity of social responsibility by 'giving back to the city' - they decided to revamp the entire stretch of the promenade from Mafatlal Baths to Land's end.
We were asked to design this revamp. The design involved a holistic approach. Apart from the structural repairs it was also decided to provide a dedicated service corridor along the footpath edge next to the carriageway with inspection chambers at regular intervals. This would prevent frequent digging of the pavement for laying new services. It was decided to move the existing trees along the centre of the footpath to the edge of the service corridor (2 Mt.) as it was found that people preferred to walk between the trees & the sea-edge which resulted in only 50% of the promenade being used though it as 13 Mt. wide.
Other features included resurfacing the entire footpath with a sturdy natural stone, providing benches, tree surrounds, bollards with chain along the 500 Mt. stretch (from Land's end to Madam Cama road junction) providing distance markers inlaid in the floor & new lamp posts. All these elements were designed in the Art-Deco style to match the prevalent style of this precinct. A circular amphitheatre formed the termination of the promenade at Land's end.
In the year 2003 MMRDA was provided with the requisite budget to carry out this revamp & it decided to float an open competition to not only revamp the promenade but to review it in the larger perspective of the city and address issues of parking, traffic movement during the immersion of Ganpati idols, the extension of the sea-link up to Land's end and sea-transport options.
This beautification project was to be carried out with a wholistic approach to urban design encompassing its physical construct, the present & future projections for traffic, engaging the concerned citizen groups, and ensuring its viability & continued sustainability.
This crescent shaped promenade along the sea actually forms a 'Verandah for the city'. The architectural survey reveals as if it were in direct resonance with the historical 'Bow & Arrow" which is formed by the intersection of D.N. Road - with VT & Gateway at its two extremes & Veer Nariman Road - with Town Hall, Flora Fountain, Churchgate extending out towards the sea.
The presence of a strong magnet as is Chowpatty at one end of the promenade necessitates the development of an appropriate balance at the other end (Nariman Point).
The junction of Madame Cama Road & the twin commemorative columns opposite the aquarium also occupy some significance along this stretch along with existing bus stops with their potential to be developed as focii.
The Proposal presents a tripartite approach
FIRSTLY on the observations made above it recognizes certain specific points as Nodes - to act as a pause points along the stretch. The various kinds of Nodes proposed are:
Bus-Stops - the stop is stepped back from the carriageway in a lay-by and has been expressed as the crest of a wave, clad with a transparent acrylic sheet which forms a backdrop to the amphitheatre seating provided along the stretch of sea wall behind it. The paving here is a combination of natural materials, in-layed within which are diagrams pertaining to Mumbai.
An elaborate Plaza is proposed at the Junction of the historical Veer Nariman Road axis. A water cascade is located on axis with Flora Fountain, with flower beds on either side, making the edge.
Two mirror Plazas are proposed at the Madame Cama Road Junction and the other around the Twin Pillars near the Aquarium.
At Land's End, Nariman Point, the promenade is proposed to be terminated by the circular form of a Public Seating Plaza, and a tableau of sculptures, surrounded on three sides by the sea it will also function as a viewing platform to watch the sun-set, or to perform.
SECONDLY it gives due consideration to present and future Services running by this stretch. New additional manholes augment the storm-water drainage network. Trenches are designed for future lines, to minimise disruption during laying, and some structural enhancement of damaged sections of the footpath and seawall are included.
THIRDLY it brings into the limelight the Art Deco character of the Marine Drive Waterfront. All elements of the Street Furniture such as lamp posts, bollards, benches, mile-stone plaques, bus-stops, pavement patterns etc., follow the Art-Deco aesthetic.
Four armed Lamp Posts to be provided are so aligned as to be parallel to the cardinal directions through the length of the promenade. In relation to the curve of the Drive, therefore, each one of the Lamp Post rotates about its own axis & this constantly varying angle between them & the sea wall express architecturally the grand crescent of Marine Drive.
The Macro picture envisages a 3-level underground parking facilities under the Maidans of the Gymkhanas for over 4700 cars accounting for visitors to chowpatty, the Promenade, Aquarium, Wankhede Stadium & events at the Gymkhanas themselves.
Also the semi-circle currently occupied by government shanties can also accommodate 2300 cars on 3 - levels. At ground level both these locations remain Green Maidans.
The proposal recommends that the 'Proposed Western Freeway' be routed underground - this will free the horizon of Marine Drive from the shackles of the road bridge & also becomes an extension of the 1st proposed tunnel - under - the hill for a direct link to Priyadarshini Park. This would also allow for the promenade to be extended further by 25 M.