Any mention of Chennai’s architectural marvels instantly brings to mind large, red public structures built in the Indo-Saracenic architectural style. But, there is more to the city’s architectural history in its residential areas.
Madras Inherited, an initiative of a group of architects and volunteers, aims to unravel these hidden architectural gems through heritage walks and document the fast disappearing residential structures in the city.
Spearheaded by Triple O Studio, an architectural firm, Madras Inherited will focus on small residential buildings across the city that have gone unnoticed unlike public heritage structures. While Chennai has some of the finest Indo-Saracenic structures, it is also a confluence of many intriguing architectural styles that the group will research and map through a series of walks.
Tahaer Zoyab, architect and co-founder of Madras Inherited, said a project to document the old houses of Mylapore came as an eye-opener to the vanishing heritage in the city. “The character of the interior lanes is fast changing and we wanted to share the stories with people before residential buildings disappear and also document the rich legacy,” he said.
The team has so far documented architectural designs of about 50 houses in Mylapore. “We have traces of Neoclassical, Gothic and Art Deco styles in structures across the city. We can still find traditional vernacular architecture in some of the Agraharam houses of Mylapore, Tiruvanmiyur and Triplicane,” he said.
George Town, one of the older settlements in the city, presents a classic example of a confluence of different styles. Dare House in Parrys Corner, for instance, is designed in the Art Deco style in which there is an emphasis on vertical lines and the distinct design of a ‘sunburst jaali’ for ventilation, Mr. Zoyab pointed out.
Such intricate details imbibed in residential and private building architecture will be documented and shared with heritage enthusiasts in the city. Madras Inherited will focus on cultural tourism and heritage education and management through a series of interactive events like photo walks in historical areas. The initiative will be launched on June 16 with a walk through the lanes of Royapettah, where participants will get to decode the architectural history of the area. The walk that starts at 6.30 a.m. will cost adults Rs. 700 and students Rs. 450. Participants get to take home a bag of custom-made souvenirs, ranging from coasters to bookmarks.
The locality has a range of styles from Agraharam houses, traces of Gothic design and Islamic-style houses. The proceeds from these walks will be used to fund the mapping and documentation of city’s heritage structures. There are plans to expand to areas like Periamet, Vepery and George Town after September. For details on the walk, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact +91-8939135048.