CHENNAI: After commissioning ‘unremarkable’ buildings for decades since Independence, the authorities here are finally looking at the one crucial element that separates public structures in Chennai from the ones in World Cities — aesthetics. Sources said that the top authorities felt the new buildings in the State lacked aesthetic look and design. The officials had asked various departments from School Education to Home to come up with better designs so that the new buildings sport a better look in the urban clutter.
Sources told CE that a directive from the top officials had come in this regard, asking them to ensure that the new buildings had a standard elevation which looked good with architectural inputs.
It is learnt that departments including the public works (PWD), School Education, Housing and Home have been asked to prepare good-looking elevations for each type of standard design buildings. “Many other departments have also been intimated,” sources added. The department heads have been directed to submit the designs soon. Though home to the spectacular Indo-Saracenic architecture style, Chennai has since had few public structures that would set itself separate from the rest of the buildings filling up the cityscape.
Sujatha Shankar, convenor, INTACH Chennai Chapter, said that the move by the State government was a positive sign. Those structures that are in the pipeline now could be given an aesthetic touch, she added. “They can be worked from the conceptualisation stage itself, when the structure is visualised,” she said. Even the existing structures could be touched up, but on a case to case basis, she added. “There is no standard formula, as some of the buildings could be stone buildings or belonging to different period. There is a need to review it on case by case basis. This is possible, and it is a positive sign for the city,” she said.
Welcoming the move, Pramod Balakrishnan, member of Indian Institute of Architects, Chennai Centre, said while the idea was good, it would be difficult to the change the facade of the building. “However, they can change colour, texture, graphics or the environment,” he pointed out, adding that it required involvement of professionals. Despite its great heritage, there is no respect for heritage of any kind in Chennai, he said.
According to a PWD contractor, the builders were only eager to finish the project at the earliest due to corruption. Aesthetics is never a priority when hard currency is at stake. “But if funds are utilised properly and efficiently, this is easily possible,” he said.