Location: Mumbai, India

Client: Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority

Wadala is a 247-acre site in central Mumbai set to become the third major financial center of Mumbai. With Mumbai’s two existing business districts of Nariman Point and Bandra Kurla Complex reaching saturation point, the MMRDA acquired the Wadala site, based on its strategic advantages in location and connectivity with existing and planned metropolitan infrastructure.

Johnson Fain was invited by the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority to submit a master plan competition entry for the transformation of this underdeveloped land area into an international finance and business center. By preserving the essential urban character of Nariman Point in Mumbai, building on its historic spatial and landscape traditions, and by combining social and cultural vitality with the region’s electronic connectedness, the Wadala Commercial Center will help to propel Mumbai to the next level of achievement for the Informational City of the 21st Century.

The plan proposes predominately commercial office uses while also permitting residential development within the same zone. Active, pedestrian-serving uses are encouraged at ground and lower levels. At two key locations, the plan encourages business-serving hotels. A focused Retail Street is proposed in the westerly area of the plan. Overall, the plan proposes a balanced mix of land use: 63% commercial office; 18% residential; 7% hotel/hospitality; 6% retail/entertainment and 6% civic.

The plan establishes a rich mix of parkland and open space, which preserves the mangrove forest and develops restorative “bio-swales”. A central park, similar to the famed Oval Maidan in southerly Mumbai, is supported by tree-lined boulevards and can be used for major exhibitions and cultural events. A strong street grid accommodates autos, streetcars, bicycles, and pedestrians, for internal circulation as well as providing access to local and regional transit. A potential monorail connection would provide easy access to the Bandra-Kurla commercial center and the airport.

The block structure provides practical dimensions for the development of major commercial buildings while providing convenient access for cars and enhanced walk-ability for pedestrians. The first ten meters of vertical space establishes a mixed-use zone for determining neighborhood character and is the ideal location for services – convenience, cultural, and civic. The plan promotes these activities by locating all buildings at the street edge; high-rise development must locate their podium levels at the street while “setting-back” from the street for a tower. The lower, podium levels of high-rise, set-back tower development are ideal spaces for entrepreneurial start-ups.