• Benny Kuriakose

CHENNAI CITY - A VIEWPOINT


Chennai was the city of Indo Saracenic Architecture.


Here the architects got the patronage. Hence Senate House and the Presidency College were born. Plus many other buildings. Great architects such as Chisholm and Irwin had worked in Chennai.


Chennai is loosing its character or it has lost much of its character. Which building which has come in the last ten years can the city be proud of?


No building comes to your mind. The city cannot be proud of the new IT buildings which has come up. These could have come up in other cities as well.


Two places where I had gone earlier – one was the Moore market and then it was the Spencer Plaza. Demolition of both the buildings was a loss to the people of Chennai. The buildings which have replaced have not added to the architectural character of the city.


Once we loose our heritage, it is impossible to replace them. Is it better in Chennai, we add to the total heritage value rather than subtract them. Unfortunately, we think that creating these match box like structures is development. We are never going to learn from the mistakes the western world has committed in the 1960s by building the tower blocks in the heart of the cities. They have realised their folly and are now conserving their historic buildings in their cities.


I am not against new buildings. But they should not be created at the cost of our historic buildings. Architecture is a public art. It is difficult to avoid them.It is quite different when you add these buildings in the OMR. At least they are not destroying any historic buildings or add to the congestion in the heart of our cities. It is not the lack of money which leads to the destruction of our heritage. More damage is caused when we have more resources. It is at that time that we get many fancy ideas. I have used many elements from the historic buildings for the design of the new buildings. High court building, Senate house, Presidency College, Chepauk Palace, the old bungalows in the city, the old railway quarters buildings in Sterling road and even the ordinary small houses have influence the architecture style and concepts of mine.


There is hardly any open space available. Marina and Besant Nagar beaches are over exploited. People go there because there are no other places to go. Conditions of some of our small parks were quite pathetic, but during the last few years, they have improved.When I came to Chennai traffic was quite less. Now it is difficult to go from one area to the other at peak hours. You cannot tell how much time it will take. We are not doing anything to improve the traffic situation in the city. The number of vehicles is growing exponentially. The width of the roads remains the same.

Chennai High Court

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