From Tuscan architecture and Bali-inspired homes to Pallava-style apartments and Spanish villas, city builders are experimenting with designs from cultures across the world, says RINI MUKKATH

When real-estate giants say step into a Spanish villa, an eco-friendly home, or a modernist apartment you are bound to want in on the deal. There is a growing trend among builders in Chennai to attract customers with international concepts and architectural designs. Marketing plays a huge role in how a product is packaged and made appealing, “It's all about roping in your target audience with a product that they desire. The consumer context is very crucial when a builder has to develop designs,” says Fuzail Sait, brand executive of a consumer goods firm. From traditional Indian designs to European-inspired structural design, builders in the city are moving away from the mundane to the swish. .

Back in time

Bella Tuscany by XS Real builders located in Padur is inspired by the natural beauty, art and architecture of Tuscany. This Italian region is known for its gorgeous landscapes, vineyards, picturesque villas and architectural edifices. Typical Tuscan architecture can be identified by the tall, narrow, wood-framed windows, raised entries, wide overhanging eaves, Roman arches above windows with stucco or stone exteriors. Designed by architecture firm Shilpa, Bella Tuscany is a collection of bungalow apartments with plenty of open spaces, gardens, pools, fountains and terracotta plaques that come together to create a Tuscan-style space.

Apart from the Bella Tuscany project, Shilpa was also commissioned by XS Real to design Pallava Heights, located in Mylapore. Drawing inspiration from the glorious tradition of Pallava architecture, they created a beautiful heritage building that attracted a lot of people. “The building is designed around a swimming pool, just as the Teppakulam of the Kapaleeswarar Temple was the epicentre of Mylapore three centuries ago. The backdrop to the pool is a miniature of the Arjuna's Penance, specially carved by artisans from Mahabalipuram. We also sculpted a life-size Oor Kavalan who stands gallantly by the pool deck to check accidents,” says Sheila Sri Prakash, chief architect at Shilpa.

A trip down OMR and it's hard to miss Palace Gardens staring at you in its majestic glory. Designed by Hafeez Contractor, the man behind The Imperial I and II, the tallest buildings in India, Palace Gardens is heavily inspired by Neo-Classical architecture. “We went with the Neo-Classical theme and executed the design with minute detailing, it has Roman pillars and triangular pediments,” says Yogendra Badra, assistant vice-president, HIRCO Palace Gardens.

So what makes a building Neo-Classical? A Neo-Classical building is likely to have a symmetrical shape, tall columns that rise to the full height of the building, a broad triangular or segmental gable surmounting a colonnade as the major part of a facade, and a domed roof. The Neo-Classical style is rooted in Roman and Greek architecture, like that of the Roman Pantheon, which is characterised by a porch of Corinthian columns and a triangular pediment attached to the ends of the eastern arm.

Tropical tones

When you think of the sunny tropics, your mind usually pictures vacation homes where time stands still; there might be a beach nearby and sultry breeze coming your way. Now, Vijay Shanthi builders promise to build you a tropical getaway within city limits. Aptly named Rainforest, this project claims to incorporate earthy tones that are synonymous to Hawaii and Bali-style homes. “Our concept was to provide a tropical-themed building, complete with lush gardens and an outer façade made of line bricks that will keep the building cool and minimise electricity consumption,” says Suresh Kumar, managing director, Vijay Shanthi Builders.

Also, juxtaposing sleek contemporary design with Balinese landscaping is the new Vertica apartments at Peters Road. “We have brought in a landscape architect, Dewakusuma, from Indonesia to recreate the lush greenery of Bali,” says T. Udaykumar, managing director, Landmark Constructions

Mia Villas from Isha Homes offers an eco-friendly home that craftily blends the idea of living with Nature and Spanish-style villas. “The community devotes half an acre of land for an herb and kitchen garden, which provides the community with culinary and medicinal herbs as well as fresh produce,” says Suresh Krishn, managing director, Isha Homes.

Conceptually, villas are an import from Europe and inspired by Mediterranean architecture. The Alliance Group is creating a Spanish-villa community in Porur as well with tiled roofs and circular arches.

Spanish Colonial Revival houses were built in the early part of the 20th Century when Revival styles were popular. Other features of this style are small porches, smooth-plastered walls and chimneys, Roman or semi-circular-arched arcades and door and window openings, tall, double-hung windows, canvas sunshades and decorative iron trims.

Exposure to different cultures is clearly driving the real estate market and it's not surprising that people are buying into the idea of architecture-inspired properties, no matter how true to the style the end product is.

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