Mumbai Artist Retreat is a rural retreat for artists wanting to work in nature while keeping the city skyline in sight, with a view of Mumbai’s metropolitan centre from across the sea.
In light of the fact of increasing sea levels, a question arises as to how do you cope with densification and population growth in these areas? Coastal locations are frequently appealing from the standpoint of livelihood or favourable environmental circumstances.
It is therefore critical for architects to assess when building work is required since it provides resilience in the face of an uncertain future.
It should also use construction methods and materials that have a low impact on the vulnerable ecosystems.
In this regard, the Mumbai Artist Retreat, located on the other side of the Mumbai Bay, is typical. Because it is difficult to reach, it retains its rural, agricultural flavour. In contrast to the rest of Mumbai, it still has some sort of beach to speak about.
It acts like a refuge from the global metropole’s severe physical and psychological demands. It does, however, seem connected to the city because of the Mumbai skyline over the water.
A low-lying coconut palm farm near a beach was chosen as the site.
It suffers from salty ground water in the summer months due to a declining ground water table. A water collecting pond in the centre of the property recharges the ground water table with sweet water in order to refill the ground water table.
Furthermore, the pond attracts a large number of fish and birds. The site’s programming was defined by the architects into three zones that run the length of the property: a temporary residential zone, a workplace zone, and a long-term residential zone. To accommodate these operations, the proposal offers a series of temporary buildings.
The buildings comprise of long- and short-term artist housing, a canteen, and a flexible, central area for workshops and other resident activities. The workshop is the focal point of the design.
It is separated into two adjacent volumes with interiors that may be left open and flowing or converted to different functions with the use of timber screen dividers. There is a mezzanine in one of them.
To minimise disruption to local animals, the lightweight steel structure of stilts, beams, and columns was constructed off-site and fitted together with a nut and bolt method.
The two pyramid-shaped roofs, which have blunt tops and house two skylights, are supported by V-shaped bamboo beams.
The architect, Verrijt, adds that the workshop’s figure is inspired by a Sri Lankan ambalama. “A lovely, delicate pavilion at the edge of a rice field [traditionally used as a traveller’s rest stop] that speaks to the landscape and allows the space to flow.
So we wanted to design something that is extremely light, with a basic structure of columns; a roof that is quite dominating, almost like an industrial space; and light in the workshop’s core, where we installed skylights that collect north light”, he says.
Photography by Edmund Sumner