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Re-purposing a heritage landscape structure into a new mixed-use urban district

The Trees: A New Mixed-Use Urban District in Mumbai

Godrej Properties Ltd.
Mumbai, India
34 acres
Planning and Urban Design
Additional Services
Landscape Architecture
Completed 2013
Boston Society of Landscape Architects, Honor Award in Landscape Analysis and Planning

The Trees is a new mixed-use urban district located on the expanding eastern edge of Mumbai. The design is built upon an existing Godrej soap manufacturing complex and incorporates industrial buildings and site components and strategically re-purposes a heritage landscape structure. The master plan carefully choreographs a robust program of residential, retail, hotel, and commercial uses on the 34-acre site fully integrated with an accessible and well-conceived public realm.

Intended as a full service community, including a wide variety of amenities housed in refurbished factory buildings and new structures, the master plan carefully intertwines culture, technology, history, and landscape to align with both functional and aesthetic goals. The Trees master plan embodies Godrej’s culture, products, and way of thinking, which are synonymous with quality and a collective consciousness for sustainability.

To retain components of the site’s built and natural heritage within an aggressive mix of new programs, Sasaki first conducted a careful inventory and analysis of the existing conditions. We evaluated existing factory buildings and industrial remnants for suitability of reuse using criteria including structural conditions, interior volume, architectural character, and location. We also catalogued and evaluated existing tree species for overall heath, transplantability, shade provision, locations of species “families,” and color characteristics. The plan retains the existing central green spine of Rain trees, a mature Samanea saman species that grows to over 50 feet in height.

The green spine emerged as a structuring device for the highly pedestrian-oriented development. A high-rise periphery surrounds the green heart and central spine to provide a protected inner “retail garden” full of small scale courtyards and passages. These are layered and sequentially complex—a reference to traditional principles of Indian landscape architecture. The overall design embraces seven core principles—identity, community, connectivity, flexibility, heritage, sustainability, and financial strategy—to achieve a vibrant mixed-use district that fosters social, cultural, economic, and environmental cohesion.

After a careful analysis of Mumbai’s monsoonal climate, Sasaki developed a complex strategy of stormwater management for the site. With the aggressive goal both reducing stormwater runoff by half of and a 50% net energy reduction—resulted in a fully integrated landscape solution that maximizes surface permeability and maximum re-use of rainwater/graywater.

For more information contact Dennis Pieprz.

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