Beyond Bombay Balconies by Ayesha Taleyarkhan
‘Beyond Bombay Balconies’ the pictorial loaded coffee table book compiled by Ayesha Taleyarkhan takes one on a tour to discover the balconies in and around the island city of Bombay. The book is literally a walk through from the twisted by lanes of Bandra and Mahim to the Art Deco buildings along Marine Drive to the Portuguese styled bungalows at Kotachiwadi and many other buildings that prettify the city. It explores over two centuries of architecture and the essence of living in a bustling city like Bombay.
Sitting across the table with Ayesha, renowned theatre persona and veteran advertising professional Alyque Padamsee bounced through some of the photographs in the book over a power point presentation while renowned architects and historians shared their views on some of the beautiful balconies that adorn the book. Alyque compared the changing landscape of Bombay to New York and termed both as vertical cities, he added that one feels so connected to the city as everyone has grown up around these buildings and that their designs and textures have a certain bonding. At the same time they also reflect centuries of culture.
Ratan J. Batliboi an architect who worked on the Marine Drive makeover Project and Vikas Dilwari, Conservation Architect who recently bagged two of this year's 9 Asia Pacific UNESCO awards, shared their views along with the others present and noted that many of Bombay’s balconies were unique and designed to cater to the climatic conditions of the city, often balconies defined the building. Rajiv Mishra, Principal of JJ College of Architecture, cited that balconies are a celebration of space and that it’s important to admire the intricate designs that accompany the architecture of the buildings. He also mentioned that balconies enhance the spaces in a building and often strike a contact and conversation with the people walking on the streets.
In her brief and crisp foreword, Abha Narain Lambah, well known architect and conservation specialist notes that, ‘Balconies have played a crucial role in defining the architectural dynamics of the city. From the 19th century Victorian balconies articulated with Neo Gothic arches to the cast iron balconies of the old Watson Hotel, the early 20th century Indo Saracenic balconies supported on stone brackets to the fluid curves of concrete balconies of the Art Deco buildings from mid 1900s and finally to the sharp edges of the high rises dotting the city, each era has evolved its distinctive language of balconies’. She later adds that in the 21st century, the skyline has drastically transformed and while many historic buildings have given way to high rises, balconies continue to be the defining features of Bombay’s architecture.
Sharing her views in one of the book’s chapters, Brinda Somaya, another Indian architect who had spent many years working in New York before returning to the city adds that wrought iron railings were preferred as balcony embellishments, as they (airy railings) allowed the breeze to come in at lower levels too.
The book is a revisit from Ayesha’s earlier book, 'Bombay: Balconies & Verandahs’ and juxtaposes the old wooden latticed /cast iron railing balconies of stone and mortar homes to the art deco buildings and concrete twenty plus storey buildings. While going through the book one can easily fall in love with the varied balconies. To some it may ring memories of how one enjoyed the views from their balcony and waved to the passersby while another may reminiscence sipping some piping hot chai from their balconies favourite stool. It also illustrates the different styles of neo classical and neo gothic architecture style balconies that can be spotted around the city. The art deco style buildings were about elegance and simplicity of line with very subtle ornamentation very different from the native and vernacular type jharoka balconies.
The 170 page book which Ayesha spent two years putting together, displays some of the buildings that showcase the most exquisite and elaborate balconies. It calls out the balconies of Cowasji Jehangir Hall now the NGMA, St. Mary's, Cathedral School. INHS- Asvini, Taj Mahal Palace, Colaba and Victoria Terminus amongst others. It also carries raw images of the various construction materials that are put together to make up the buildings.
Beyond Bombay Balconies was unveiled on 28th September, 2013 at the Taj Mahal Palace, Colaba by Naresh Fernandes, author of Taj Mahal Foxtrot and well known journalist, amidst a well attended audience of well known architects, historians and the likes.
In short and in Ayesha’s words - Beyond Bombay Balconies takes you across the length and breadth of the city, into the picturesque nooks and corners of Bombay, into hot and dusty lanes, to quiet, shady residential areas and through the bustling commercial centres and the stately public buildings to get a glimpse into the past and may be a look into the future too...
A true collectors must have, the book is priced at INR 2995/- and is available in stores, you can pick a copy from Nalanda, Taj Hotels, Colaba, Strand Book Stall, Crosswords, Kitab Khana and Title Waves.
From L to R, Martin Kriegner, Country CEO, Lafarge India and Ranjit Shahani, CEO, Novartis, India
Mr. Anand Pandit speaking about the images to the crowd
Vikas Dilwari, second from left, chats with Ayesha Taleyarkhan at the book launch. In the foreground- Hormusji Cama, Mumbai Samachar
- Event Organised by : Ar. Siddhant Shah ; India Design Company
- Event Supported by : TATA
- Architects Present : Anand Pandit , Supriyo Bhattacharjee , Zameer Basrai , Ratan Batliboi , Rajiv Mishra and Vikas Dilawari
- Chief Guest : Naresh Fernandes
- Event Moderated by: Alyque Padamsee
Some stories on the book have appeared in: