Lazy weekends call for travel downtown to the most iconic location of Mumbai for some leisure activity. One of the classiest and the most iconic auditorium of Mumbai is located on Marine Drive – The National Center for Performing Arts / NCPA. It is the last building and probably the most architecturally sound building I have visited in the city. Then marine drive or the Queens necklace as it is famous in some tourist’s circuits is place where locals flock to just spend an evening by the sea. Further in the post I describe how any why from an architects perspective Marine drive is probably the best place to be if you want to have a conversation.
Usually, the evening after Holi is the best time to leave the house. The festival of colors is a tiring and intoxicating festival which bars a lot of people from leaving the house in the evening. Empty roads are a delight and takes about only fourty five minutes to drive 40kms which on a regular day would easily take two and a half hours. Yes, Mumbai has THAT much traffic. We decided to watch a play at the NCPA.
The play was The Siddhu’s of Upper Juhu. It was an amazing experience but I guess the performance that you choose to see is a personal choice. You could choose from a wide variety of orchestras, plays, concerts, dances and various such art performances that happen here. Here I would talk about the architecture of the place. To begin with, if you compare it with other ‘performance’ space like the Sydney Opera or Oslo Opera which also sit on the harbor, this one doesn’t impose itself on the skyline. There is no attempt at being iconic in terms of the form of the building. The creation of the entrance, the cantilevered canopy is a pleasing sight for the connoisseur.
The lobby spaces of the auditorium have been created to allow maximum light to filter into the space. The gardens and courtyard type of spaces with greenery around change the dimension of the space all together. To add to it there are beautiful murals on the walls.
The real functionality and architecture is within the auditorium. The acoustic designing is one for the books. For musical performances, there is no requirement for modern day speakers or other such equipment. The sound gets reflected and absorbed in a way that even the audience in the last row hears a crystal clear sound. This one in truly believe is a masterpiece in acoustics.
We moved on to the best place to have a conversation. Marine Drive was built on reclaimed land by the British government. It is also known as queen/s necklace as the shape is semicircular and from the sea, the lights look as pearls of a necklace. The street is lined with art deco era buildings which are now protected under the heritage tag on one side and a promenade on the other.
The promenade is high above the sea with humongous and numerous tetrapods (which are assumed to save Mumbai from Tsunami) in between. The only time the sea reached land when it is in its full fury during the monsoon (That is another time for people to come to Marine Drive). On the other side of the other side is a fast moving and a busy road. On the promenade itself, people are sitting in groups, in oblivion of each other, carefree. And then if you manage to find a spot in between the big chaos of families, friends, couples, tourists, joggers a cocoon of personal space is created. Were nobody knows you but you are still in arguably the most beautiful place in the city. When you walk, there is a small story playing at every step. You might not be a part, but that is what is the role of the audience.
There are various restaurants in the vicinity the serve all pocket sizes. And if you use the right tools, you could find the one with good tastes. Blessings of the internet.
A visit to Marine drive is usually eventful, be it in the personal sphere in terms of intimate conversations or be it the performance of the city. This time around it was the city’s turn to perform. The play we choose tickled our funny rib,marine drive gave us our space while being its charming self. It gives you memories that you take away and store, only to replenish it next time you arrive.