The rise of Mumbai

News - The rise of Mumbai

March 29th 2013

I can only really describe India as a sensory feast. I confess it can be overwhelming at times. Wild sensory explosions intoxicate and overwhelm your every sense. Your heart beats faster here, your eyes open wider and so does your heart. There is something truly magical about India. It consumes you. It is not subtle or reserved, it is a place of bold sounds and sites and large manifestations of religion and philosophy and history and culture. Yet it is never brash or uncivilised. In this chaos, in this seemingly unordered onslaught of animation, there is something quite extraordinary happening. You see, India is like a tapestry of colours and threads. If you look too closely there is seemingly no order or rationale to the detail. But when you step back, you can see how all the colours and weaves come together to form a beautiful and artistic statement. And at the moment, India is making a very bold statement to the world, and we would be wise to head it.

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I have been to India a half dozen times, and whenever I return to Mumbai particularly, I feel my body and my mind spring to life. This 24 hour city is a cacophony of car horns, festivals, shopping, art, Bollywood, industry and conversation. The city truly is the heartbeat of India, if that heart had recently had a massive adrenaline injection straight through the chest cavity.

This week was the colourful and beautiful festival of Holi in India. Cities were awash with people celebrating, laughing and dancing in the mist of a rainbow of coloured powder confettied upon them by strangers and loved ones. Colours like you have never seen, deep, rich, saturated pigments going off like powder firecrackers everywhere.

But festivals often act as a magnifier of some of the challenges that large cities face. And Holi in Mumbai is no exception. The infrastructure of the city is currently failing. The city’s exponential population growth coupled with the increase in middle and upper class incomes, means that space in the centre of Mumbai is at a premium. There is a severe density issue in Mumbai, with demand for real estate high and supply fairly low. There simply is not enough space.

This is worsened by a crippled infrastructure system that is simply unable to manage the sheer weight of the demand placed upon it. Everyday people die on the trains, and the roads are like parking lots of stationery vehicles.  The government seems unable or unwilling (or both) to invest in the necessary works to improve Mumbai’s transport network. Works that are undertaken appear token at best and will simply not prove effective. A massive program of investment is required in Mumbai’s transportation networks, which currently acts like a choke chain around the neck of the Mumbai, suffocating development and industry growth. The government simply must dig deeper into its pockets and redirect funds into the development of its cultural heartland’s growth.

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Business is not sitting idly by waiting for this to happen though. In fact, there are a few visionary captains of industry in Mumbai who have decided to proactively be part of the solution to some of these challenges, and it is bearing great rewards.

Simply put, there really are only two possible solutions to a density problem like Mumbai: Either build up or build out. Lodha Group has decided to do both.

With the launch of World One, in the centre of Mumbai, Lodha hope to create a mixed use 117 story tower that will act like a beacon to the city.  Complete with an Observatory Deck, a Museum and enticing interiors across the office, residential and public spaces – it is to be a destination within a single building. An iconic new totem, designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners.

But more interesting and exciting, is Lodha’s investment in a strategically located area called Wadala. An old industrial part of town that Lodha has identified as premium development land for the creation of a new urban masterplan called New Cuffe Parade. They are not alone. Dosti Group , R. K. Developers and Ajmera have also seen the opportunity and investing heavily in the region.

Mumbai is created by the union of 7 archipelagos, and Wadala is an island city zone linked to the centre by decent rail and road. But most importantly, infrastructural improvements are already starting to be noticed in this part of town. In 2013 The Eastern Freeway Project will be completed which will dramatically improve road connectivity between the CBD and Wadala. But over the next 5 years an even larger infrastructure projects will dramatically change the residential landscape of Wadala: A 20.2 km Chembur-Wadala-Jacob’s Circle monorail. Phase 1 connecting Chembur with Wadala will complete as early as 2013, with the final phases delivered in 2017.

It will come as no surprise therefore that in a recent report by Knight Frank on India’s top residential destinations to invest in, Ulwe, Mumbai was top of the billing, followed very closely by Wadala and Chembur, Mumbai. According to the report, these 3 areas of Mumbai will appreciate more than any other area in the country over the next 5 years.  In fact, it is expected that Wadala residential property will appreciate by an astonishing 133% over the next 5 years.

Lodha Group’s New Cuffe Parade is a veritable nirvana, an oasis. It is a major development centred around a series of open space including parks, pools, and even a private cricket pitch and pavilion. The idea is to create a new community centred around a more sustainable and peaceful way of life in the heart of the pulsing madness. A retreat. A breath.

Lodha Group is delivering a remarkable 6 towers on the site. And it’s piece d’resistance is the tower named Lodha Evoq, a dazzling development designed by YOO inspired by STARCK.

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The designs reflect a bold, almost rebellious style that is at once startling and individualistic – tinged with poetry and humour. The interiors are imaginative and inspiring and results in living spaces that are unique, thrilling and really rather sensational. Lodha Group’s team call this “statement living”. A phrase I quite like and now use regularly.

Lodha Group have managed to enhance an already compelling city with something truly spectacular. There is nothing mundane or everyday about New Cuffe Parade. But there is nothing normal or average about Mumbai. I think New Cuffe Parade is a fitting and wonderful gift for the city, and I, for one, cannot wait to see what Mumbai and indeed Lodha Group, does next.

Lodha Evoq’s stunning design has been recognised by the H.D.F Luxurious Projects Asia Awards 2013 by being presented with the Bronze Award for ‘Best Luxury Residential Design in Asia’.

Click here to read more about Lodha Evoq.


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