top of page





Size:  350 Acre site


Environmental Technology: Passive Light/Ventilation/Cooling, Passive Solar Heating/Water Heating, Grey Water Separation, Solar Photovoltaic Electricity System, Rainwater Harvesting, Mass Transit Connection

​Design Team: Shivjit Sidhu - Apostrophe, Brinda Somaya - Somaya Kalappa Asso.

Looking Back, Striving Forward: Mumbai Esplanade Project


Mumbai is a city crumbling under the weight of expectations of the millions who call her home. The millions inhabit this great global center of finance, innovation and cosmopolitan joie de vivre and yet one whose physical character and spatial environment has progressively deteriorated over the years. It is ironic that this city, where infinite dreams are born every day - nurtured against all odds by individuals, is plagued by civic authorities entirely lacking in imagination and gumption. The city planning department, fossilized into a stupor of inaction, content in the hubris of accomplishments from long buried generations, has found recourse in piece-meal initiatives and band-aid maintenance.


A great city like Mumbai, however, needs bold action. It cannot rest on the laurels of the past nor lose its initiative to routine. The citizens of this great city are doing their part; they work exceedingly hard in an extremely challenging environment with tremendous sacrifice of self, family and community. The linear geography and density of the Island City culminates in an urban layout that is dependent on its 'Suburban Rail' network stretching from historic South Mumbai, where primary public institutions and established business districts lay, to newer suburbs having relatively affordable housing and newer business districts. Train stations are great points of confluence, where all strata of society converge and from where paths radiate, connecting neighborhoods, slums, high retail and commercial blocks alike. Accurately described by Mumbaikars, the rail network is likened to the lifeline of the city, however today the areas around train stations are severely congested, unsafe and hostile for commuters and pedestrians. By prioritizing automobiles over pedestrians and creating unsafe, unhygienic and inconvenient solutions such as subway tunnels and bridge connections around stations, the city has created increasingly dangerous urban environments especially for women, elderly and the differently abled who have to navigate these congested hurdles even before embarking on their long commute.


This problem takes on another dimension in the historic core of South Mumbai where two of the busiest city stations, Churchgate and CST, open onto the core of the city with its collection of heritage, cultural and government institutions and large, historic urban parks. Recognizing the unique quality of this area which was historically designed around pedestrians, Architects Brinda Somaya and Shivjit Sidhu have proposed the Mumbai Esplanade Project, striving to improve the existing dilemma by applying lessons from the past.


The project, a collaboration between citizens, civic groups and officials, will be a boon for the over 6.9 million commuters who spill out at the two major stations facing adversity on their way to work. The hardship of commuters starts with disembarking from the train and crossing roads through the slippery stairs of an unhygienic and unsafe pedestrian subway.


When completed, the Mumbai Esplanade will have connected not only the 125 acres of existing parks, but will have added on 51 acres of new, open public space to Mumbai by linking the parks of the district to plazas, train stations and the central business district. There will be new underground spaces created for civic amenities, cultural institutions and parking. It will be the largest open public space in the city, ultimately creating a connected landscape of 350 acres that encompasses the historic heritage district.


Under the newly-envisaged project, citizens will step out into open spaces, thoughtfully landscaped with walking paths, bio-diversity gardens, water bodies, sports grounds, recreational areas, toilets, vendor facilities and a bicycle track. Landscaping will be synchronized with the heritage structures of Mumbai’s central business district. Vehicular traffic including public transport will be directed under a series of plazas through a modern system of underpasses. The creation of an urban plaza is the most efficient solution for creating a balance between pedestrian comfort and safety, and smooth flow of automobile traffic. The residual benefit to the citizens of Mumbai is the creation of an open landscape in a city starved of open space.


“The two major cricket stadiums of Mumbai are located adjacent to the Churchgate Station and the Esplanade will become a natural point for gathering and for celebrations, games and events. Additionally, the many colleges and cultural institutions in the area can use the plaza for artistic and cultural programs, making the Esplanade Plaza a truly democratic space for all citizens of Mumbai,” says urban planner and team member Priyanka Vasudevan.


According to Brinda Somaya, a city architect who has been leading the successful restoration of various heritage structures and institutions in the city, “The time has come for a bold and implementable proposal for the revitalization and up-gradation of Mumbai’s urban core. The creation of open, publicly-accessible space is one of the key elements in improving the overall quality of living in Mumbai. The Esplanade Plaza, once completed, will be a gateway for Mumbaikars commuting by train to South Mumbai, and an integral link element for the area’s historic architecture.”




  • 350 acre pedestrian district linking train stations to tourist, cultural, central business districts

  • 51 areas of landscaped pedestrian plaza, comprising of gardens, water bodies etc.

  • Creation of new museum and cultural space in the Museum District of Kala Ghoda

  • Pedestrian links to Gateway of India and Colaba Tourist Districts

  • 6 Underground parking garages created at tourist, government and business areas

  • Safer for pedestrians and automobiles without possibility of jaywalking

  • Boon for disabled and elderly commuters who cannot climb subway steps

  • Adheres to new anti-terrorism norms against crowds in confined public spaces

  • 18 new toilet facilities

  • 125 acre Maidans/parks connected by landscaped plazas for safe pedestrian mobility

  • Provision for amphitheater and cultural shows

  • 2.5 lac sq.ft. of ‘cultural’ space for folk, sport and fine art museums

  • Short underpasses for vehicular traffic eliminate traffic lights at major crossings

  • Smoother and faster traffic movement from Marine Drive to Fort Area

  • 640 new parking spaces spread around Fort and Marine Lines Central Business District

  • Reduction in noise and exhaust pollution

  • Estimated cost: Rs. 492 crores

  • Estimated fund generation via Public-Private Partnership: 1,239 crores

  • Value of Open Space to City- Priceless

  • Estimated time: 18 months (traffic re-routing 3 months)

  • Architects and Planners: Brinda Somaya (Somaya and Kalappa Consultants Pvt. Ltd.) and Shivjit Sidhu (Apostrophe Architecture & Urban Design Pvt. Ltd.)

bottom of page