St. Stephen’s Steps in Bandra, Mumbai is an urban transformation project by Abraham John Architects (AJA). A historic landmark, St. Stephen’s Steps are directly aligned with the gate of St. Stephen’s Church.
The 88 meters long and 12 meters wide steps are a modern design of a concrete staircase with inclusion of a ramp offering easy access to pedestrians. The midpoint of the staircase turns up as a central gathering area. This public space facilitates cultural events and recreational activities for localities. Planned events such as live performances, exhibitions and workshops are organised during festive season converting St. Stephen’s Steps into a decorated open air theatre.
Before getting revamped, this place once use to be a dump yard frequented by drunkards and anti-social elements posing a threat to local population. Thanks to AJA, the local municipality and active participation by citizens for making a collaborative effort. In December 2019, St. Stephen’s Steps was inaugurated and given back to the people to foster community engagement. Ever since, it has come alive and become more accessible to people of all age groups and ability.
I was surprised to see a coffee seller moving downstairs. As you can see in the sequence, the steps are designed to naturally make the pedestrian walk horizontally.
I experimented by walking straight down, came up and followed the course of the ramp realizing it took less effort in the second attempt. The zig-zag pattern with sharp turns in alternating directions, thus makes it a smart and effortless design. In simple words, the steps make you walk and walking is good for health.
From the entry point, you get a nice overview of the descending landscape. I got another opportunity to photograph a sequence of two ladies using the facility.
The side walls were painted with mural art work when the project was completed. I somehow lost the original photos which I had taken last year and therefore I have embedded the instagram link.
Unfortunately, majority of the murals have lost their glory. A few of the walls are defaced with spray paints. I hope the concerned guardians of the place ensure a fresh restoration and safety to maximize the durability of the artworks.
A temporary plaque showcasing the project details.
‘Unity in Diversity Tree’ was a unique installation during Christmas. I am not sure if any events or installations will happen this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai