Chennai architecture depends upon the architect, the clients requirement, the latest architectural trends and the materials available to Chennais building industry. The latest architectural trends play the major role, and these trends are to an extent influenced by local developments in information technology, communication and transport facilities.
Chennais latest architectural trends are:
1. Self-sustaining townships in suburban areas
2. Green buildings
3. Large retail outlets
4. Sizeable landscaped areas
After land costs skyrocketed in urban Chennai, migration started towards suburban areas and townships started to proliferate in those places. Townships are developments with large open spaces and all basic living requirements including schools, offices, shopping complexes, theatres, hospitals and clubs.
A closer look at a typical Chennai township features reveals that:
Multistory residential complexes are developed with clusters of 5 to 10 dwelling units in each block.
Drawing on elements of modernism, these townships also contain open spaces and low-rise (single or two-storey) blocks.
No decorative elements are used and the emphasis is on functionality.
Open planning in these townships creates larger spaces as well as space into space circulation.
Inside dwelling units, other than private spaces, spaces are open and differentiated by levels, flooring and furniture styles.
Living areas lead to semi-private areas so that inhabitants do not feel they are in an enclosed structure.
Existing water bodies are upgraded to aesthetic elements by surrounding them with landscaped parks incorporating pedestrian paths.
Car parking areas are planned based on the area of dwelling units.
Green building concepts are incorporated in most buildings. Chennai has the distinction of housing the largest number of green buildings in the country.
In the recent past several malls with up to seven stories have also opened in Chennai with different styles of architecture (examples are gothic, formalism and modernism). These malls encapsulate retail stores, offices, multiplexes, restaurants, large lounges and. multilevel basement car parking.
Chennai has also an abundance of multistory IT Parks in postmodernism style, providing anywhere from 50,000 to 200,000 square feet of carpet area. Their facades are typically enhanced with aluminum composite panels and glazing, and the interiors fitted out with modular workstations, optimal lighting, filtered power, generator backup and centralized HVAC services. At the time of writing this article, a large portion of this IT space is unoccupied, since many of these buildings were constructed in the pre-recession Indian IT boom, and many fell vacant as tenants downsized or closed down.
Because of the high price of urban land, owners of single-family independent homes are currently flocking to developers to forge joint-venture projects. Hopefully the developers will thoughtfully landscape these new projects to keep Chennai the pleasantly green city it has always been.