Chennai’s Skyline Through The Ages: Observing Art in Architecture

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Chennai is home to many iconic buildings and structures in India, from the colonial Victoria Public Hall to the Chepauk Palace, the first Indo-Saracenic building in the country. In the past, both public and residential architecture in Chennai was deeply influenced by colonization. Portuguese and Danish influences were prominent, but Britain’s impact on the city’s skylines is the most tangible, with imposing Gothic-, Imperial-and Art Deco-style structures that have become modern landmarks. 

After independence, a gradual shift to Modernism began. Today, swanky high-rises and new, elegant designs dominate the structural outlay. If you observe keenly, three styles are increasingly prominent among residential architecture in Chennai of late:

  • Neoclassical and European

Flats in Chennai

Defined by their geometric silhouettes, symmetrical patterns, and an emphasis for clean-lined structures, neoclassical structures strictly adhere to principles of order, harmony and balance. A modern take on neoclassical architecture in Chennai such as the Madras High Court and the Senate House are defined by neatly-columned buildings that are meticulous in design, and exude elegance and luxury. These grand columnar buildings with distinctly-arched entries are hard to ignore. Appaswamy’s Mandarina in Kotturpuram is one such example of neoclassical architecture. Peppered with touches of a Spanish Revival Style, Mandarina boasts quaint Villaments tucked within, complete with a personal garden and swimming pool – a villa paradiso, if you may. 

  • Contemporary

Contemporary architectural designs are expressive, innovative, and reflective of the present day. There are no specifics that define contemporary styles, except that they try to break away from past influences. Warped, asymmetrical facades and plenty of modern building materials like glass and reflective screens are typical of this style and can be seen in buildings throughout the IT corridor at OMR. Azure the Oceanic is Appaswamy’s addition to contemporary architecture in Chennai. With sleek slab and L-shaped blocks, energy-efficient Alumil glass windows and a high-tech transparent façade, Azure uses this architectural style to provide a panoramic sea view. 

  • New Urbanism

New apartments in OMR

As environmental awareness increases, a growing emphasis on eco-friendly and sustainable living has penetrated 21st century architectural designs. New urbanism architecture brings carbon conscious structures, incorporating alternative energy sources, eco-friendly materials, and recycling into their design. Landmarks such as the Anna Centenary Library, World Bank and Express Avenue stand in testament of this growing architectural movement. Altezza, the latest Appaswamy project on OMR, is also designed as an ode to transformational living in Chennai. The use of sustainable materials reduces its carbon footprint while adding a rusting charm to the building. Communal sky parks on every level encourages residents to lead a green lifestyle. With an in-house sewage treatment plant, rain water harvesting system, and solar-powered lighting in all common areas, Altezza is a quintessential futuristic architecture that will encourage conscious living even in tight urban areas. 

What other styles of architecture in Chennai have stood out for you? Tell us in the comments below! 

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