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Home > This Mumbai Apartment Materialises at the Intersection of Art, Architecture & Context

This Mumbai Apartment Materialises at the Intersection of Art, Architecture & Context

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Location: Mumbai
Design Firm: Studio PKA  
Built Area: 2,500 square feet; 232 square metres
Principal Architect:  Puran Kumar  
Project Team: Sonali Mehta, Nivedita Parab, Darshali Golani
Photography by: Niveditaa Gupta

The apartment faces Mumbai’s striking Queen’s Necklace and frames the everchanging outside world while acting as a backdrop for the client’s ever-growing art collection

Mumbai’s skyline constantly mutates; it’s a city that churns out towering buildings at an alarming rate, each clamouring for attention. It’s easy to get lost in this cacophony of lofty structures, yet drowning out the noise is some of the city’s most characterful architecture of Art Deco buildings, quietly standing steadfast within this world. So, when Studio PKA was called upon to reimagine the empty shell into a family apartment on the third floor of one of these beauties, they took that architectural inheritance seriously.

The apartment affords multiple frames of sea views from the living, dining and master bedroom. This balcony, off the dining room, features rustic stone flooring and cement terrazzo walls to add to the visual and tactility
The living room is connected to the exterior views through large windows while a ‘floating’ credenza works to partition the living area from the dining area

Spread across 2,500 square feet and facing Mumbai’s striking Queen’s Necklace, the four-bedroom apartment opens up to enviable views of the sea. “The apartment is a heady combination of three concepts,” explains principal architect and founder Puran Kumar of Studio PKA. “One is its context of Marine Drive, Queen’s Necklace and the bay that it overlooks; the most astonishing views form the setting for the apartment. The second aspect is that the building itself has got Art Deco style of architecture and that language had to be imbibed. The last concept, a very important one, is the art the owners were coming in with. They are passionate about art with clear preferences, loyalties and a whole collection that had to be intrinsic with the entire design.”

The apartment features a muted material palette of marble, cement mosaic, exposed brickwork, and hints of terrazzo coupled with wood and metal frames

What’s remarkable about the interior design language is how Kumar has worked these three concepts in equal parts, with each supporting the whole. The Art Deco and existing structural elements within the house – curved balcony, beams and columns, high ceilings have not only been retained but the design has been built around them. “We had to take care of ensuring we were looking into restoration yet in loose terms, modern living within an Art Deco building. And, of course, the whole aspect of bringing in art first, having the architecture readied for it. Adornment is the last part; the furniture, the fixed pieces, the setting – everything is an accessory to what came first,” Kumar says.

View from the main door. The passageway forms a refuge for the art collection – the most striking of which is the Alwar Balasubramaniam installation at the far end
The firm created a false wall to first have the three-by-three-foot Balasubramaniam work installed and then build around it resulting in the installation appearing to blend into the wall
View of the entrance. The passage, designed almost like an art gallery, is flanked by the expansive living and dining room on one end; sliding partitions provide the possibility of zonal separation while maintaining a visual connection with the day areas, the passage and the kitchen

The main entrance opens into the L-shaped passageway, which is flanked by the dining and living area on one side facing the sea and the kitchen and bedroom block on the other. This passageway is one example of how art played a crucial role in the design of this 4-BHK flat. “Rather than stand out as individual works, the art is allowed to become one with the structure — through the Alwar Balasubramaniam installation at the far end of the passage – an instance where art and architecture have come together. Exposed brick niches break forth as part of ‘The – L’ which along with the white plastered walls provide neutral backdrops,” Kumar says.  

Large windows connect the living area with the outside world while the dining area flows into a deck; the space features furniture by Poltrona Frau and art by NS Harsha
The dining area features furniture by Poltrona Frau; the standout elements being the rustic exposed brick wall specifically designed for the Ram Kumar artwork
While the sprawling views and Italian statuario marble flooring visually connect the open-plan living and dining areas, each stands out as an individual entity. The living area displays a modern design language while rusticity defines the dining area

The dining and living constitute the day areas – forming a cohesive whole yet standing out as individual entities by way of their distinctive style. There is a language of exposed concrete, Statuario marble, and exposed brickwork coupled with some very good brickwork that becomes the window to the outside world. That becomes the language of what you’re looking out to, but not before the rawness of where you are in touches you,” Kumar explains.

Complete with a small study, a marble-clad bath, and an enclosed balcony that becomes part of the space – the master bedroom exudes a sense of luxury and boasts stunning views of the sea face; the balcony features the Archibald chair from Poltrona Frau

The bedrooms predominantly feature custom-designed furniture and a minimal design language

The first leg of the L-shaped passage concludes in the master bedroom while the second leg is enveloped by the three remaining bedrooms. “There is a little more regulation in the bedrooms. Taking into consideration the Art Deco style in these rooms, we didn’t want to doctor the rounded nature of the balconies and the rounded columns…(so) we built around them. The rooms feature some art and simplistic, custom-designed furniture put together just to ensure comfortable, elegant living,” Kumar says.

The bathrooms work patterned tiles, marble and warm wood into the design

This Mumbai home is a confluence of art and architecture, resulting in a symbiotic relationship focusing on the creation of an experience through the masterpieces that adorn the walls, which in turn are brought to the fore by the materials themselves. “The materiality is intrinsic to our architecture. I can’t think of a wall as a simple surface…(It) is a play of many factors – the touch, the feel, the visual, the emotions. Everything is connected and experienced on a multitude of levels. However, there are some areas, like bedrooms, where we tend to create simpler spaces. We need to provide something that won’t become a challenge, visually or experientially, for the user over a long period of time. As architects, I think we’re responsible for that,” Kumar concludes.

Story by Nadezna Siganporia


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