MVRDV transforms infrastructure of mumbai into playful community space

mvrdv’s sustainable approach to urban development


working alongside co-architects StudioPOD, MVRDV celebrates the completion of One Green Mile, the transformation of a series of neglected spaces below Mumbai’s Senapati Bapat Marg flyover. Creating a public space for the entire local community from an overbearing element of concrete infrastructure, the design adds much-needed amenities and greenery for adults and children alike, improves mobility, and creates a strong visual identity for the area.


The team notes that on a broader scale, the project represents a repeatable approach to sustainable urban development that asserts a new benchmark for underused public spaces in the intense Indian metropolis.

MVRDV transforms concrete infrastructure of mumbai into playful community space



linking neighborhoods with green space


MVRDV (see here) and StudioPOD (see here) present One Green Mile beneath Mumbai’s Senapati Bapat Marg flyover — part of a series of major roads that extend for over eleven kilometers (seven miles) through the heart of the city. The highway system generates significant noise pollution and creates a barrier between neighboring areas that limits options for mobility.


In connection with an office development in the area, local architecture firm StudioPOD was tasked by Nucleus Office Parks to improve a stretch of streetscape running 800 meters (half a mile) alongside the flyover.


The most transformative part of this scheme occupies an unused area beneath the highway structure itself. For this specific section, StudioPOD invited MVRDV to collaborate on a community space that would address the flyover’s negative impact while responding to the area’s lack of amenities and green space.

MVRDV transforms concrete infrastructure of mumbai into playful community space



A sinuous urban landscape in mumbai


StudioPOD initially solved the traffic and street profiles and helped to define the program and identify the target groups. Expanding upon this, MVRDV designed sinuous blue stripes to create a cohesive visual identity used across all elements of the space, creating a concept for One Green Mile that offers a delightful and holistic urban spatial experience.


A hilly paved landscape transforms the two-dimensional visual features into a 3D spatial experience, accommodating a whole range of different programs and providing a dynamic physical attraction. Visual accent colors in materials and graphics make all aspects of the intervention recognizable as a whole. The space is divided into a series of public ‘rooms’ with diverse functions: lounge, gym, shaded seating area, performance space, and reading room.


Planting extends throughout the space. Greenery in the design — featured on a series of screens lining the space, an archway at the entrance, and in retaining walls and planters — promotes biodiversity, while cooling the surrounding spaces and dampening noise pollution.

MVRDV transforms concrete infrastructure of mumbai into playful community space



The design enhances connections for pedestrians and cyclists to make the area more comfortable and accessible. Paving, bicycle paths, and bright, large-scale zebra crossings promote access and safety. It improves accessibility with the incorporation of an uninterrupted mobility network and mobility hub to stimulate cycling. The area’s lighting concept works alongside programmatic elements and urban furniture features to make a recognizable place, and ensure safety around the clock.

MVRDV transforms concrete infrastructure of mumbai into playful community space



The team at MVRDV explains that One Green Mile exemplifies a circular economy approach. By reusing the space underneath, the flyover itself increases in value — in addition to transporting cars, it acquires a new purpose as a sheltered, occupied public space. Engineering features store and filter monsoon water to irrigate One Green Mile’s extensive network of plants.


With its focus on shaded and inclusive green public spaces, One Green Mile can easily be repeated elsewhere in the city. For the current project, a planned future extension will expand the revitalization of public space to 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) of the flyover’s 11.22-kilometer (7-mile) total stretch, which extends from Mumbai’s Mahalaxmi racecourse to the Dharavi Mangrove Region.

MVRDV transforms concrete infrastructure of mumbai into playful community space



Perhaps one day we will see the end of noisy, unpleasant highways carving up our cities, but for now they are still unfortunately a necessary evil – one you can see in Mumbai more than most cities,’ comments MVRDV partner Stefan de Koning. ‘One Green Mile asks the question: what if we expected highways to give something back to the places they cut through? A flyover can provide some shade in a hot city, and creates a small area of land that can’t be developed with tall buildings. It’s not such a crazy idea to make that into a public space.’

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