IF.BE – “Ice Factory Ballard Estate”: 144-year-old ice factory in Mumbai morphed into a Creative hub and Restaurant

Designed and restored by Malik Architecture, one of Asia’s oldest, 144-year-old ice factory, made of bricks and wood got a new lease of life as a restaurant, an art gallery and creative hub named ‘IF.BE’.

Located in Calicut Street, the once-crumbling factory has been refashioned into a restaurant called Native Bombay and a rustic gallery IF.BE, which aims to be a hub for architects, designers and artists to converge and collaborate. It will host exhibitions, performances and workshops, and house a gift shop, cafe, restaurant and bar.

Going back to the ’80s: ice was imported from Boston and stored in ice houses in Mumbai. Owing to scalding Indian heat businessmen Nanabhoy Byramjee Jeejeebhoy and JA Forbes launched Mumbai’s first ice factory in Ballard Estate in 1878.

The gallery features six sections—The Substation, a reading room for art, architecture and design material; The Ice Factory, a performance room; The Banyan Tree Café that whips up salads and sandwiches; and a courtyard. The factory straddles two streets in Ballard Estate, and once the sun sets you can head onto the other side, which houses Native Bombay, a restaurant and bar that will offer modern Indian food and is set to launch in two weeks.

The design of Native Bombay is a stunning example of fusing the heritage architecture into modern elegant space with the traditional warli art and rattan furniture.

Metal art and Warli paintings on the walls create a serene ambience. The colour palette with warmer tones of wood, rust and unlacquered brass lit up the place as if it’s a vintage tavern.

Photograph by Assad Dadan

Low-slung and seriously comfortable sofas, as well as rattan chairs are perfectly positioned to create versatile seating options. In the centre is a pared back, minimalist bar framed with leather stools. A long traditional balcony shaded with fluted glass windows has been carved out for cosy two seaters.

Large glass frames in the walls shine a spotlight on the historic chimney of the ice factory as well as the magnificent banyan tree outside. They also make the room feel more spacious while bringing in an abundance of natural light inside.

The ice factory’s rich industrial heritage has been kept intact with refined style, preserved details, and original structure.The bare brick lends a rustic touch to the place, making the experience seem quite historic. The structure still holds the integrity of what it used to be, while also giving a modern and elegant vibe.

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