In case I needed a reminder that the Lab is about to open here in Mumbai, I got it several days ago: walking into the back garden of the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, I found myself in the middle of a positively swarming construction site. I didn’t take a firm count, but the number of people on site laying paving materials, smoothing concrete, pushing wheelbarrows, erecting bamboo posts, and engaged in deep, furrowed conversation made it feel less like a construction site and more like a village bazaar.
It was undeniably exciting, and over the past several days I have delighted in watching the site transform almost magically before my eyes. As I write this from the Lab’s little cottage-like office adjacent to the site, I can still hear the pounding, sawing, and the flurry of Hindi and Marathi discussion as workers put the final details in place.
I’ve mused about it before, but it continues to fascinate me to see how different the Lab feels in each new location. In New York and Berlin, I had the rare opportunity to see how the exact same structure looks and acts in more than one environment. The difference between the feel of the Lab on its sites in New York and Berlin was a real testament, I think, to the immense influence environment has on our perceptions of architecture, and vise versa.
But in Mumbai, the shift is even more exaggerated. This is partially because the site is so vastly different: the back garden of the Museum is a jungle-green oasis, in contrast to the Lab’s former, more grittily urban spaces. But the structure, of course, is also different. As far as I can tell, it would be an understatement to say that the atmosphere created by a structure made of bamboo differs wildly from that created by one of carbon fiber.
I’ll hold off on finalizing my thoughts, though, until I see the Lab at its most real: full of people and activity. In the meantime, enjoy a few sneak-peek photos of the structure in its final phases of preparation. Opening day is this weekend. Very excited to see what it will hold.