All unattractive structures will be demolished, as part of a project to restore the complex’s grandeur
All poorly-designed structures that are a blot on the premises of the heritage Ripon Buildings — that houses the Chennai Corporation — are likely to be demolished in June this year.
The Corporation has decided that several structures built recently that do not aesthetically blend in with the nearly century-old buildings, will be done away with.
The proposal to demolish these buildings was made after a decision was taken to integrate all the civic body’s departments — at present scattered in small structures across the premises — into the Ripon Buildings Annexe, a new, 12,540 sq. m. building that is being constructed alongside the main heritage structure. To fit in with the main building’s Indo-Saracenic style of architecture, the annexe is being built in a contemporary and post-modern style, with elements of regional architecture highlighted.
Based on a report by civic body officials, the Corporation is planning to demolish the buildings that house the legal cell, electrical department and association buildings near the health department office. These are all structures located between the main building and the upcoming annexe. Once the annexe is completed in June and all departments are shifted into it, demolition will begin.
The revenue department also housed in a separate structure too was initially under the axe, but the civic body finally decided to keep it as it was decided that it aesthetically conformed to the main building. However, a decision is yet to be made about the demolition of the old auditorium. The annexe will have a new auditorium which will seat 500 persons.
As part of the overhaul and renovation of the entire premises, unwanted trees will also be taken down and replanted. The work, which is severely behind schedule, was earlier being monitored by bodies such as INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage).
Also part of the work is the restoration of old buildings with meticulous use of lime mortar for plastering. However, officials said the work would be completed before celebrations for the building’s 100th anniversary begin later this year.
To encourage use of the annexe, the Corporation is planning to allow city residents to use its rooftop garden to hold functions. A proposal to construct an additional basement parking area or a multi-level parking lot for residents who visit the premises is also pending, with a decision on it not yet taken.
The Ripon Buildings is one of the city’s finest examples of architecture in a combination of Gothic, Ionic and Corinthian styles. The Rs. 7.7 crore renovation is being carried out under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), to preserve the building’s original grandeur. It is also the first heritage building in the country to have received funds from JNNURM for renovation.