Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ranwar from top above

have been wanting to upload this one for a while now.
Its hand rendered in Water color on cartridge, size A3., later edited digitally to add some layers.

This view is Ranwar as it is today, i have tried to capture as many details as possible. The main references for these have been google earth, Panoramas of the aerial views shot by me, and other images of facades. It gives a clear view of what exits and how it exists, with the green cover in place.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Effort to preserve Village within the city, Indian Express, Mumbai Newsline (cover)

Well a little publicity does no harm;-)
A small article on my project was published today in the Indian Express, Mumbai Newsline.
have a look!

Article by: Shweta Desai, Photograph by: Pradeep Das

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Ranwar Stretched Wide, Through Pictures

Panoramic Views of Ranwar (source software to make the panoramas: Microsoft Image Composite Editor)

Ranwar Square, stretched wide:

Turn at the Grotto, stretched wide:

The Oratory Junction, stretched wide:

Behind Jude’s Bakery, stretched wide:

Agna Square, stretched wide:

Aerial Views of Ranwar, atop Qureshi heights (the tallest built form in Ranwar, G+7)

Series of Analytical Mapping

Next in the series after the previous post is the set of Analytical mapping.. As of now i will post the first two sets that i have worked on, and that is mainly understanding the change in public/private open space from 1948 to 2010.. and the next is the built scape and the scale of the same in the hamlet. Also i will be talking about how the zone identification happened to the image Bandra and Ranwar as seen in the field.
1) Identifying the Zones: 
Core Area: This is area more than being the centre of the village is the only zone with most of the old residents and old houses. The communication bond amongst the residents here is really strong and hence the most of the old culture is seen here.
Mid Area: This area is where the demographics start seeing a change. The mix of people has started changing as there are apartment blocks around here where more people of various communities live. The communication bond starts loosening here, but still there are some ties with the core area that keep them going.
Exterior Area: This one as seen is in the extreme exteriors where it meets the main/arterial roads of Bandra in various directions. The resident mix is almost new as there are only apartment blocks around this area. The communications ties are almost nil here. They have very less connection with the core area.
this is understanding the zones with the built scape as the base map

this is understanding the zones with the popular image of Ranwar as seen in the field while on research as the base map.

The image seen on the right is the popular image of Bandra as seen in the field. This is in line with the post made on the 24th May, 2010, the link to the same can be found here: ‘Physical forms a city’. The image speaks of the various nodes, edges, paths, nodes and landmarks that define Bandra.

This image on the right is the popular image of Ranwar as seen in the field defining its various physical forms.

2) The Realm of Public and Private open spaces in 1948: The open spaces both public and private were in much tolerance with each other. They were very well balanced here.
It was also because of the lack of vehicular traffic that made things easier compared to today. These open spaces were nodes for various community activities and interaction between the village community. One can also see that each cluster of housing has its open areas well settled. The idea behind having more open space around their house as each community member involved themselves in community based activities. Private life was less important.
The open spaces gave more area for vegetation and plantation. Though these lands were infertile tracts of land, one could till and grow basic vegetation. It also gave way to poultry farming and each family has its own set of hens and chickens and pigs.

3) The Realm of Public and Private open spaces in 2010: The open spaces both public and private are not at all tolerant today. With times meaning attached to spaces have changed.
The change in traffic regularities to change in mind sets of people have redefined boundaries and the difference between the public and private open has become distinct. Plot line that used to be just these invisible lines of demarcation have become visible today though walls and fencing. One can see that the open space around each cluster of housing has reduced compared to 1948. The private lives have taken over community living and this is very visible through these spaces.
There are very less community activities and the interactions are dying with the spaces that gave these activities a life. 
Please view the above two maps in comparison to one another.

4) The Built Scape in 1948: The built scape in 1948 as seen in the map did not go higher than G+1 height that would be approximately 6 meters in height and not beyond that. This gave a lot of scope for ventilation and natural light as the sea was also close from two sides, one towards Bandstand and the other towards what is now reclamation. Also the various features in the house like the verandahs and windows as big as the door sometimes made a lot of sense as scale was all the same.

5) The Unchanged Built Scape since 1948: This map mainly work on the mathematics of what has not been changed yet. All the common built scape (mainly G and G+1) in the the map above and the map that will be below (the built scape in 2010) defines the unchanged properties. It is mainly to study what has remained the same while the world has changed in 2010.

6) The Built Scape in 2010: The built scape in 2010 has gone beyond G+7 in height which makes up for a lot of woos of the old residents. The old houses are getting sandwiched in between high scale apartment blocks. The Reclamation has taken most of the view and breeze of the place and the hamlet has become landlocked from all sides.

6) Understanding the Development Pattern: I would rather call it informal development pattern. One can see with the highlighted purple area the builders are moving in. It is from the main streets that these patterns move inwards towards the core of the hamlet. On the other side due to reclamation any development is rare to happen.
Also the blue highlighted area is where a lot of mixed and commercial land- use is seen. Mainly because they are the main streets. This area also makes it for most of the traffic as one is the arterial road (HILL ROAD) of Bandra while the other is the arterial road of the hamlet (Ranwar).
As for the trend in the blue area, The houses here are going to come down first giving way to high rise blocks as is the case further down Waroda road. 

6) Understanding the Essential Heritage Aspects: This Map focuses on some of the essential aspects to be understood about the village in terms of heritage subjects. Even though all blocks have been put in the categories of:
New built scape, Old built scape, Transformed built scape (the olden built scape which has transformed visibly), Significant built scape (in terms of heritage building, location in the village, and presence for a certain number of years in the case of Ranwar for more than 75 years.), Dilapidated (built scape that has lost its strength) and mixed and commercial land use, They have different stories to tell. Each built environment has its reason for being there and it definitely falls prey to its surroundings.
The information put here is based on my analysis and the interviews of the residents that I have taken. Also it has a view point which I share and am welcome to criticism for.
**The blocks that haven’t been marked for land use, are by default residential.

The essentials have been posted,, more on their way.

The Historical Analysis through Maps

Sorry for a long break in between!!
MAPS: Maps are a visual representation of an area; they also depict the relationships between the spatial elements of that area. Maps are a tool that i am using for analysis of the research i have done for Ranwar and about Ranwar. They are indicative in nature and depict my viewpoint based on the various available data and resident interviews over the period of my study.
Please do leave your comments and feedback!

1) The Age map of all the heritage built-scape : This map indicates the age of buildings existing as of July 2010. All buildings built before 1934 are considered historically significant. The span of life of this built form ranges from 75- 200 years. The built scape belongs to a specific style of architecture and spatial character, which defines the cultural ethos of the community that occupies them. They need special attention in terms of conservation and regeneration.

2) The Age map of all the built scape : This map indicates the age of buildings existing as of July 2010. All buildings built before 1934 are considered historically significant. The span of life of this built form ranges from 75-200 years. One can see the stark difference in the built form in the last 25 years, which has juxtaposed itself against the older built form. This also in clear indicates the threat the old built form, which needs conservation in first priority is under the scare belt.

3) Comparison in between various village structures: This collage of maps shows the similar village structures of the community of the East Indian Catholics, whose ancestry comes from the profession of Paddy cultivation. They were converted to Christianity by the Portuguese around 1575 AD. These villages date back to 400 years of constant evolution with various house types. Today these villages are looked as prime properties for development in FSI (Floor Space Index), by the builders. Hence most have them have been declared Heritage Precincts by the Heritage Society of Mumbai (MMRDA), to protect a culture, lifestyle and architecture which defines the cultural ethos of all the suburbs they are from.

The structure of the village is defined by narrow streets, winding/zing zag lanes, house types of G or G+1 levels of local vernacular architecture influenced by the Portuguese and the British styles. They hold a similar pattern of evolution all along the cost of Konkan region. They congregations/huddled houses are normally found on infertile tracts of land, the foothills in most cases. The houses are very close to each other (mainly for security reasons) and their fields move outwards, towards the fertile landscape.

There is no planning that goes into the while the houses are being constructed, wherever there is space they used to construct. Also the houses in the village grew with the increase in family members to accommodate everyone. 

4) Probable Evolution of Ranwar : This collage of maps shows the probable evolution of Ranwar through the 400 years. It is an indicative probability mainly based on the sample interviews I had with the residents of Ranwar. It is also more so an example to show how villages of this nature and spatial character evolved around the Konkan coastline.
Ranwar, 1610:
The houses start to be build around paddy fields by the farmers. They build them in a cluster format close to each other mainly for security reasons. There are about 10 houses at this time and their fields are close by. There is no planning what so ever that goes into the building of a village. The land found perfect for construction is built on. Ranwar, comes from the word 'Ran', meaning forest and 'Wada/Wadi' meaning settlement, making it to 'Ranwada' and finally 'Ranwar'. This proves the existence of a forest around, maybe moving upwards to the Mt. Mary’s Hill. Ranwar was divided in to sections mainly due to its location just at the foothills. as marked in the map, the clusters in the east belonged to 'Wada chi Wadi', higher towards the hill, while the west side belongs to 'Het Wadi', lower towards the downhill. 
Maximum Height of built scape: 396 cm
Ranwar, 1710:
Everything remains same as in 1610, a few more houses have been added. 
Maximum Height of built scape: 396 cm
The families started getting bigger and the houses started extending. This is one of the main reasons of Evolution of a village of this kind.
Maximum Height of built scape: 670 cm
Ranwar, 1910:
The farmers start loosing their land to the British Government for development in exchange for an assured job with the govt. The clusters have become stronger and the roads have started getting definitions. A community has started growing. There is a sudden jump visible due to the rapid increase in population.
Maximum Height of built scape: 670 cm
Ranwar, 1960:

The communities start migrating to new places with new migrants entering. The village is loosing its character due to the rapid development by the new Indian Government. The village is saturated with built scape.
Maximum Height of buil scape: 1525 cm
Ranwar, 2010:
Things are changing rapidly and a culture, lifestyle and architecture that complement each other in a community like this is dying. There are several reasons for the same.
Maximum Height of built scape: 1525 cm and going higher and higher.

5) Effects on Ranwar before and after Reclamation: This map indicates the scenario of Bandra before and after the reclamation in 1972. The effects of which are seen in Ranwar directly in terms of wind circulation and lifestyle. The reclamation which took over the south sea portion affected a lot of spatial characters of precincts nearby. At one point it used to be the best docking station for ships as they were protected by the cup, created by the 3 forts (Bandra, Worli, and Mahim) around that area. The sea edge also called for a lot of activities like family hangouts and swimming for the young.

The Lifestyle of the people got affected as a result of both Ranwar and Bazaar road being landlocked. It got in a lot of traffic and the wind circulation has been disrupted.
In the map the blue area is the water edge, the one in the south was reclaimed in 1972 to make land for development, which connects to the main western expressway that takes most of the traffic of Mumbai. Towards the other water edge in north-west there are several high rises that have blocked all the view and wind. Also in between the ares full of concrete blocks and the green cover is reduced to a considerable level.

In the below Mumbai Map of 1954 (source unknown), we can see the image of Mumbai before the second reclamation took place. In the circle one can see the cup protected by the three forts of Bandra, Worli and Mahim very clearly. It is in the Third and the last reclamation of 1972 when the southern edge of Bandra and the western edge of Mahim were reclaimed for development. The Honourable Supreme Court put a prohibition on any further reclamation in the city by putting in effect the Costal Regulatory Zones.

The Historical analysis was mainly carried out to see the heritage aspect of Ranwar Precinct. But it is not just with the analysis of the historical aspect that things get clear, a lot more analysis was done to create the reference points of better understanding the current state of the Hamlet amongst the madness that Mumbai faces everyday.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Looking at Ranwar, up down!

It is time i say, yes!
I have started working on the design concepts and proposals with scenarios for Ranwar, It is time!
But while i do that a lot of analysis of the study that i did shall also be on its way on the blog. 
First in the series is the 3D of Ranwar, a Block 3D which essentially helps in understanding the current state of air circulation in the village, mainly after the high rises are taking over its serene scale. It is also important to have this mainly to have an overview of the village while and iterate on the design conservation plans. 
The comparison is mainly in between 1948 and 2010. 1948 mainly because thats when the first survey map of Ranwar was created of course after India gained Independence. It was surveyed by the British officers before they handed over the reigns of India to India. No Ranwar was no special case, they surveyed almost everything and helped India know its own places, before the government took over the Parliament. 1948 map is the one that i got from Mr. Herman Rodrigues, and has been used by me as my base map for all the mapping that i have done after that. 2010 because its NOW!
The difference is visible. Difference mainly in scale but also in depletion of the open grounds that Ranwar, or any other village of this nature could boast about. 

Ranwar in 1948

Ranwar in 2010

Here itself we see stark differences in scale and occupancy of the open spaces.

Ranwar, 1948

Ranwar, 2010

Ranwar, 1948

Ranwar, 2010

Ranwar, 1948

Ranwar, 2010

Ranwar, 1948. The scale is low, the sea was near and the breeze was superb!

Ranwar, 2010. The scale got high, the sea became land and the breeze vanished.

Ranwar, 1948. The view was perfect, one could see through the houses and the doors were open. Almost no one ever took to roads, it was only the neighbors house that was used as a pass through out of the village.

Ranwar, 2010. The view got disrupted, hardly anyone sits by the verandah, the doors are now closed and one has to take the roads/streets jostling between the speeding Cars, Bikes, and Auto rickshaws. There is no place to walk!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Its Exclusive! is what Ms. Alice Flanagan told me. Yes 1,4 is a fund that is an exclusive private club that runs in Ranwar which gives admittance to only 24 members. only 24!.
Going a little back to the history of these funds, it was a little more than 40 years ago that these funds were started, in fact only recently the funds celebrated its 40th anniversary with much fanfare and some and nostalgia (unfortunately cant reveal some little secrets with which the members are made fun off, but yes that showed the sincerity with which the members run the funds and be together in times of need.) So back to history, the funds were started by a group of women around the Ranwar square and they used to pay Re.1 and 4 anna as the membership fees per year and hence the name 1,4 funds.
The funds were created mainly for the reason that the women gather money by the year and enjoy with money, and if any member needs some in difficulty help them too. They used to used the funds also to have a picnic for the members once a year.
Some activities, all the members get together and celebrate their being every alternate month in the form of a dinner which is hosted by four members in one of their cottages. Hence they have 6 dinners a year, and all the 24 members get to host it once in a group of four. And they enjoy their time with full course dinners cooked by some of the best cooks (from what i have heard and will soon experience, Ranwar has some of the best culinary skills) and some great East Indian drinks like Kheemad, the base of which is country liquor mixed with some spices.
What they talk, we can imagine. It ranges from talks of their lives to nostalgia to doing something fruitful for their village juntaa. So they have a motive and its to celebrate once every two months and enjoy the exclusivity of being a part of a club which they call it 1,4 funds.
Today the members pay around Rs.50 as membership fee per year, apart from hosting these wonderful dinners ( i need not mention, i already got an invitation to the next one and i am so looking forward to it!)

Through these community initiatives we can only see some thought for the being, being together and living peacefully with one another. Interestingly, places like Ranwar gives an opportunity to have some clubs and initiatives of these sorts which still binds them together.
Like the literary club in Ranwar some grand years ago to Rest Ranwar, women's day celebrations, evening rosary's, 1,4 funds, and many more initiatives bring a lot of reflection as well as importance to the existence of these spaces and the link of same to their culture and lives that they live everyday!
i am sure there are many more clubs like 1,4 that i have to still hear about. But just celebrating life is something one should hear from them!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Feast of the Holy Cross

Feast of the Holy Cross:
The True Cross is said to have been discovered in 326 by the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine IHelena of Constantinople, during a pilgrimage she made to Jerusalem. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was then built at the site of the discovery, by order of Helena and Constantine. The church was dedicated nine years later, with a portion of the cross placed inside it. In 614, that portion of the cross was carried away from the church by the Persians, and remained missing until it was recaptured by the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius in 628. Initially taken to Constantinople, the cross was returned to the church the following year.

The date of the feast marks the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 335. This was a two-day festival: although the actual consecration of the church was on September 13, the cross itself was brought outside the church on September 14 so that the clergy and faithful could pray before the True Cross, and all could come forward to venerate it.
Alternately: In the Gallican usage, beginning about the seventh century, the Feast of the Cross was celebrated on May 3, and called "Crouchmas" (for "Cross Mass") or "Roodmas". When the Gallican and Roman practices were combined, the September date was assigned to commemorating the rescue of the Cross from the Sassanid Persians, and the May date was kept as the Finding of the Holy Cross or Invention of the True Cross to commemorate the finding. (In this context "invention" (from Latin invenire, "to find") does not have the modern sense of creating something new.) Pope John XXIII removed this duplication in 1960, so that the Roman Calendar now celebrates the Holy Cross only on September 14.
(source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feast_of_the_Cross)

In Bandra:
Going by the Gallican usage, which was the earlier celebration, Bandra celebrates the Feast of the Holy Cross in the month of May every year. The residents who live around a particular cross come out in the evening after sunset to say the rosary everyday in May. Its a practice that has been followed since eternity here, even though the official date of the the Feast is shifted to September 14th by the Pope.
the decorated cross at the Ranwar Square for the final day of the feast of the cross month on the 31st May

In Ranwar, the feast is celebrated with full zeal and enthusiasm by the residents of the village. It was a very neat experience to be a part of these daily rosary's at the two crosses in Agna Square, and the Ranwar Square. I went to both for rosary recital, of which one was the community mass and feast on the last day of the month of May when the feast ends. Its really nice that this practice still continues, especially in the month of May as it is Vacations and all the kids can also join in. The atmosphere around these crosses id very festive, the crosses are decorated and the snacks for the feast are prepared at home by some enthusiastic residents (the taste of the Marzipan is still on my tongue, gosh! it was yum), and it is always open for all to come around and be a part of the celebrations. 
It is also important to notice that these events and activities, religious or not religious become great nodes of communication. People gathered around do make it a point to greet each other and share a chat. This is something that keeps the community life active and buzzing.
some more images:

the statute of Mother Mary at the grotto near the Ranwar square, and the a regular Rosary on at the Agna square

Rosary on the final day of the month if May, which is celebrated with a feast.

a residents reciting the Rosary, praying for everyones good health and revising lessons give by Lord Jesus on community living, love and friendship

some beautiful decoration at the cross, with flowers from a neighbors superb garden, and an innovative sprite bottle cut candle stand. 

The Experience was truly memorable, also because i was introduced to a whole lot of residents who are going to be helping me with the project and we got to see a very very beautiful cottage 42, Ranwar at the Square which belongs to Mr. Owen and his cousin brother. The chat about his house, maintenance, the time he spends it to talks of some history was very helpful.