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Old March 30th, 2009, 09:40 PM   #1
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Tamil Nadu Architecture

This thread is for urban, and rural traditional architecture from Tamil Nadu. This is NOT a TEMPLE specific thread, but temples can be part of it. It is more about house designs from the various regions, town plans, etc etc through the ages ( with specific emphasis on pre-Colonialstyle )
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Old March 30th, 2009, 09:54 PM   #2
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Chettinad Houses

Being a region comprising of 75 villages in the Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu with Karaikudi as the main town, Chettinad is the homeland of Nattukottai Chettiars, mainly a banking and commerce based community. The community members were chiefly engaged in highly prosperous trading with South and South East Asian countries like Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Burma during the 19th and early 20th century. Much of their wealth amassed was sent back and invested in palatial homes, which reflected their success.

Typically, the houses are fort like and stretch between two streets, the front door opening into one while the back door to the other. Woven as a series of open-air courtyards of varying sizes with rooms flanking them on all four sides, the house transcends from a public to a private realm of functions as one moves in from the main door. Beginning with a big public verandah and courtyard meant to entertain the male visitors by the men in the house, the house graduates to a slightly smaller courtyard with rooms and storerooms around it. Every member in the family would get a room and his name would be carved on the door. Many houses could accommodate up to 80 members of an extended family at a time. One of the other courtyards was meant for dining, which could seat about 250 people at a time. The women’s quarters and the kitchen with the servants’ rooms were at the very end.

Interestingly, the houses are an amalgamation of various things – Burmese teak columns, Spanish tiles, Italian marble floor and locally available Athangudi tiles. Style wise too one can see woodwork resembling the Kerala style, neoclassical, Victorian and Anglo Indian styles. The walls are of baked bricks, plastered over by a secret recipe of roots, yolk and lime that leaves them silken smooth and washable. On the exteriors, an array of themes from Hindu gods to British soldiers and Victorian women, adorn the surface as carvings, friezes and statues, interspersed with domes and arches. Overall it is predominantly white on the outside, to ward off the heat and at times colourful as their interior counterparts at the detail level. However, all of these put together never reads crude or bizarre and surely conveys a sense of splendour.

Some examples..

House exterior..'fortress' like, with traditional Saivite symbolisms all around.



Decorative spiral staircases to the upper floors..



Open courtyard..with rooms flanking the courtyard on all four sides..





a more humble courtyard..





Courtyard floor design..possibly a latter addtion ?



Upper floors..



Open varandah..



Massive room !!

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Old March 30th, 2009, 10:04 PM   #3
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Thinnai ( Court Yard Houses )

A few types of typical courtyard houses..







A basic court yard house consists of rooms and open halls, arranged around an open court yard in such a way that all these spaces are looking towards the court yard. Window-less rear walls, of these rooms and halls, form a solid enclosure around these spaces. This enclosure has an entrance door towards the road side and a back door to the rear compound. These houses have raised platforms ('thinnai') between the front wall and the road. A walk way, a few inches above the level of the road, provides access to the main entrance door from the road, divide the front "thinnai" into two parts, one on either side of the entrance door. This walk way is called a "Nadai" in Tamil, which means walk. This walk way runs through the entrance and divides the raised floor of the interior to form "thinnais" on either side, until it reaches the central court yard. Two more walk ways are usually provided from the court yard, one to the main room and the other towards the back door. Out side the back door, a verandah is provided along the rear wall. The kitchen is usually provided on one end of this verandah.

The portion in front, which consists of the "thinnai" and the walk way, is covered by a roof which is an extension of the roof of the interior. This roof, always slopes towards the road, is supported by short wooden columns. The eaves at the entrance is usually lower than a person's height. The elders of the locality explain this feature as a system to make, those who enter the house, to bow down in respect. However, technical shortcomings also can be attributed to this situation.

Around the court yard which is open to the sky, there are wide open spaces. These are multi-purpose areas and accommodate most of the day to day and occasional activities. Rooms, which are generally not very big, arranged in a row of three on one side and open to this multi-purpose space. The main room is generally located in the middle and one of the other two is designated as a shrine room. Additional rooms are provided depending on the size of the house at other locations within the house. All these interior spaces are covered by the roof, which is designed in such a way to slope towards the central court yard on all four sides and supported on short wooden columns located along the edges of the court yard, to protect the open living spaces from heavy rains.
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Old March 30th, 2009, 10:14 PM   #4
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Some typical Thinnai designs..



Thinnai pillars are an art by themselves..note the intricate pillar bases !



A more modest thinnai, with wooden stilts..



An 'Agraharam' or a consortium of thinnai houses... with a contemporary touch..



This is probalby how Tamil Nadu housing would have evolved, if not for people abandoning traditional designs for Colonial designs.
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Old March 30th, 2009, 11:03 PM   #5
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DakshinaChitra is a center for the living traditions of art, folk performing arts, craft and architecture of India with an emphasis on the traditions of South India. DakshinaChitra is a project of the Madras Craft Foundation (MCF), a non-profit organisation. DakshinaChitra opened to the public in December 1996. The center occupies ten undulating acres overlooking the Bay of Bengal, at Muttukadu, twenty five kilometers south of Chennai, on the East Coast Road towards Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu.

History..

DakshinaChitra started with an effort to bring the hidden wealth of South India to light – to set up an institution to celebrate the myriad cultures of the numerous people of Southern India. In an era when the old and the traditional are vulnerable and challenged, this nucleus of an idea triggered a cultural journey.

Inspired by the artisans and folk artists of the villages, Dr. Deborah Thiagrajan, set out to form the Madras Craft Foundation (MCF) in 1984.

Madras Craft Foundation is a non-profit, non-governmental organization and DakshinaChitra was conceived as its main project. With the support of like-minded board members and volunteers and financial support from the Madras community, Dr. Thiagarajan and all others associated with MCF pursued the dream with perseverance and determination.

MCF received a Ford Foundation grant for research and education in 1988, a long lease of land from the Government of Tamilnadu came in 1991, followed by grants from the Development Commissioner, Handicrafts (Government of India), for the building of DakshinaChitra. Matching donations came from the industry and the center slowly became a reality, opening to the public in December, 1996.

Laurie Baker - the renowned architect, graciously donated his services to the foundation. The spatial conceptualization at DakshinaChitra and his building techniques and process breathe his philosophy of empowering masons and craftspeople in the building process. Architect Benny Kuriakose who designed the public buildings and supervises the conservation and reconstruction of the heritage buildings, has also provided continued service in the construction and conservation of the center.

Today DakshinaChitra successfully showcases the rich cultural heritage of South India. It reflects the beauty, traditions, innovations and the continuing evolution of South Indian arts and culture.
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Old March 30th, 2009, 11:07 PM   #6
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Few Dakshina Chitra photos...



Model Thinnai house..



From a Calicut Model house..



Traditional Tamil 'Thallu Vandi'

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Old March 31st, 2009, 03:14 AM   #7
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Nice thread.

But we have "Enchanting Tamilnadu" thread already. So how to differentiate this thread and that.

And what about "Arts, dance?!?"
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Old March 31st, 2009, 03:32 AM   #8
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Arul, As the thread name goes as 'Architecture' - it means anything that is constructed by human. It may be a house, a shopping complex, a temple, a mosque, a church or anything.

Any natural scenery, arts/dance etc could be posted in the enchanting thread.


BTW, Fusi, a very nice thread and good pictures.
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Old March 31st, 2009, 04:03 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fusionist View Post
town plans
can we call this as town planning of Madurai?

4 ring roads surrounding the temple.

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Old April 1st, 2009, 12:45 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gvijayan View Post
Arul, As the thread name goes as 'Architecture' - it means anything that is constructed by human. It may be a house, a shopping complex, a temple, a mosque, a church or anything.

Any natural scenery, arts/dance etc could be posted in the enchanting thread.


BTW, Fusi, a very nice thread and good pictures.
thanks, and yes I woulsd like to elaborate on the differences betwen this thread and the 'Enchanting Tamil Nadu' thread.

ETN thread is more for picturesque photographs be it building or not from TN.

This thread is more informative, it is about the unique architectural style. If you are going to post temple photos in this threa,d it has to be specific, for example about types of Vimanam design, its evolution, the temple layout trends under different ages, architectural style etc.

Also this thread is not just about temple, but more about architecture as such. Be it village layouts, comparision between different architectural styles, types of houses, town plans, ancient layouts etc etc

Liker the topic says.. ARCHITECTURE

Quote:
As a process, architecture is the activity of designing and constructing buildings and other physical structures by a person or a computer, primarily to provide shelter. A wider definition often includes the design of the total built environment, from the macro level of how a building integrates with its surrounding landscape (see town planning, urban design, and landscape architecture) to the micro level of architectural or construction details and, sometimes, furniture. Wider still, architecture is the activity of designing any kind of system.
This naturally means not just photos, but some discussion aswell. I put this thread in the 'Image Gallery' as it is visual oriented.
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Old April 1st, 2009, 12:56 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arul Murugan View Post
can we call this as town planning of Madurai?

4 ring roads surrounding the temple.

interesting, it could very well be ! Temples were built in the centre of the city and the city itself grew on four sides of the temple, and on two or three sides if there was a river next to it ie. Srirangam etc

BNasically all temples followed the Yantra pattern from within the fortified outer walls...

here is they master layout of the Madurai Temple..



The outer streets outside the fortified walls do have a significance. The inner ring roads given preference to people with higher stature. Also the four sides of the temple could possibly be demarkated into 'zones' where professionals of different trade marked their establishments.

And the Madurai old city plan around the temple is not too different from the Paris city plan wihch is divided into 20 arrondissement ( or sectors ) around the river Seine. The arrondissment are marked clockwise, and spirals from inner city to outer, into 20 parts.

image hosted on flickr


Old Madurai would have been very similar and possibly grown in a systematic manner, if not for completle abandoning of the old system and superimposing a new layout on top of it, making the city look very disorganised now.

Last edited by Fusionist; April 1st, 2009 at 01:06 AM.
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Old December 9th, 2010, 05:11 AM   #12
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Old March 15th, 2011, 05:40 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arul Murugan View Post
can we call this as town planning of Madurai?

4 ring roads surrounding the temple.

Yes, it was planned a town by Pandian Kings. It was meant to be "lotus" like look from aerial view, where the temple towers forming a petal/ sepal kind of look. Outer layers were planned to have circular streets with all 12 tamil months names like, "chithrai", "masi", "avani"..... few such street names are still in practice, "therkku aavani moola veethi", "vadakku maasi veethi" etc etc.
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