by Sonal ShahNov 30, 2021
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has approved the design of an elevated green walkway snaking through the woods of Malabar Hill in Mumbai, India, its entire length carpeted by towering tree canopies, creepers, and bushes. Conceptualised by Mumbai-based architecture and urban design firm, IMK Architects, the Malabar Hill Forest Trail is a 705-m long, 604 m wide "treetop walkway" whose elevated design will provide uninhibited views to the Arabian Sea and focuses on ecological protection and conservation.
IMK Architects say that Malabar Hill Forest Trail is “a first-of-its-kind” for the city of Mumbai, imagined to be built without damaging a single tree on site, which boasts of a wealth of local flora and fauna. Set to be completed by the end of 2021, the project is steered by a vision to create a “safe walking track for residents within the forest that allows them to not only understand but also be part of the ecosystem while causing minimum disturbance to the natural environment,” shares the design team led by Rahul Kadri, Partner and Principal Architect, IMK Architects.
The mostly neglected 12.5 acres of Malabar Hill was shut down by the BMC for the last decade or so, as the small forest was home to undesirable activities and encroachment. IMK’s project will help revive this micro lung of the city, emerging as a fresh respite for its locals and visitors. “Surrounded by nature and the sounds of chirping birds, the trail will create a safe haven for pedestrians amidst the bustling city,” observes Kadri.
With a budget of approximately INR 100 million (13,48,478 USD), the proposal will be realised as a raised wooden walkway with a central spine of epoxy-coated structural steel supports, forming a loop across the upper and lower slopes of Siri Road. By raising it, the forest is left untouched, the flora and fauna intact. “It has been delicately detailed to keep the intervention’s impact on the forest floor to a minimum,” reiterates the team. One of its sides rests on a rocky incline, while the other bends towards a deep valley, providing views of the bustling, concrete city.
The leisure walkway will have ticketed entry and will be peppered with viewing decks, benches, and a glass-bottom look-out zone at its widest point, its handrails emanating minimal illumination. From the ground, the walkway will be raised at a minimum of two metres, and according to the site’s shifting contours, it might reach about 10 m higher at certain places. Blurbs containing information about the surrounding plants and animal species will be incorporated at places to inform its users of the site and its diverse inhabitants. All details of the trail will be illuminated, and materials such as weathered wood will carefully merge the walkway into the forest's natural habitat.
“We would like to thank Mr Aaditya Thackeray (Maharashtra's Tourism and Environment Minister), Mrs Sangita Jindal (Chairperson of the JSW Foundation), and the Nepeansea Road Citizens' Forum for enabling us to make this vision a reality,” mentions Kadri.
Name: Malabar Hill Forest Trail
Location: Mumbai, India
Length: 705 m
Client: Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)
Architect: IMK Architects
Design team: Rahul Kadri, Harish Vyas, Bhumika Ganjawala, Heena Sheik
Sponsors: Concept: Jindal Steel Works (JSW)