Architecture students give design ideas for an inclusive Chennai
Transforming Anna Salai
Final-year students of Meenakshi School of Architecture in KK Nagar West are working on a proposal to promote “transit-oriented development” (TOD) on a three-km stretch of Anna Salai.
As per World Bank, TOD is a planning strategy that aims to concentrate jobs, housing, and services around public transport stations with the objective of reducing carbon footprint in cities.
In the first week of May, the team presented a concept study to a group of urban planners from Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) about ways to promote “node-to-node development” on the stretch between Thousand Lights Mosque and Chintadripet. They have now been assigned to work on a detailed proposal.
“We had read that the State Government was working on a proposal to increase floor space index (FSI) to six on major roads including Anna Salai, this got us to take it as a topic for “Design Studio” that we submit as part of our curriculum,” says Sai Sabari, a final year student of the college, who is supported by 24 other students from his class.
Revising FSI means giving way to vertical development and redevelopment of older plots.
“If FSI increases then population of Anna Salai will increase by three times, so through our study we have been asked to analyse what this means, will it help TOD, what type of buildings should come up; the parking solutions and the economic benefits,” says Sai Sabari.
M Uma Chakkaravarthy, head of the department, Meenakshi School of Architecture, says many structures on Anna Salai will go for an overhaul.
With the Metro line, the character of Mount Road is changing, and this will add to that change. “Once many companies had their head offices on Mount Road. We will see many of them making a comeback and that is why various urban planners are working, with our students and faculty taking up a small stretch of the arterial road,” says Chakkaravarthy, a city planner.
He says 78 structures are protected under the heritage act on and around this three-km stretch.
“We have proposed a plan to accommodate parking on the service lanes, near heritage buildings and earmark a hangover space,” says the faculty. Four nodes on the stretch have been identified. Omandurar Hospital junction in Chintadripet is one; the others are the junctions near Dams Road, GP Road and Greams Road.
“Our work will also involve suggesting ways to organise traffic movement around these junctions,” adds Chakkaravarthy.
Ideas for a better Santhome
In April, fifth year B. Arch students of the School of Planning, Architecture and Design Excellence at Hindustan Institute of Science and Technology presented their ideas for a better Santhome. Nageshwara Rao Park was the venue, where designs and drawings covering facets of urban planning like transportation, open spaces and architecture principles were displayed.
Siva Surya S, who recently graduated from the college, says the batch with 44 students was spilt into six groups to study various aspects of this architecture-rich neighbourhood. The terrain, land use pattern, building typologies, architectural styles and transportation were covered.
The team thinks civic authorities must consider working on improving pedestrian safety. “Once work on Light House – Poonamallee stretch of Chennai Metro Rail gets over, many residents should be encouraged to use the metro service if there is a safe walking space. At least a two-km stretch around Light House must be made pedestrian-friendly,” says Siva Surya.
Kutchery Road is going to be an important road for commuters for the residential population in and around the area. Currently, the width of the road has become narrow due to haphazard parking of vehicles and encroachments on the road.
Besides the Santhome church with its Gothic architecture from the late 19th, there are many other buildings that lend the neighbourhood its distinct cultural identity. The students have suggested that new buildings try to incorporate certain elements in their structure to retain the old-world charm.
“In Puducherry, for example, in French Town, any new building that is coming up would receive approval from the local body only if the design elements of similar structures are incorporated in the plan. Why can’t we do the same in certain areas that have a rich architectural heritage?” says Siva Surya.
The study also found that only 10% of opens spaces in and around Santhome are being put to good use, and they want the authorities to plan something for those lying unkempt there.
Near the housing board tenements on Marina Loop Road, the team observed that although open spaces were provided they have not been earmarked for any specific purpose. “While some are used to park vehicles, a few have been turned into dumping grounds,” says Siva Surya.
Sheeba Chander, dean, School of Planning, Architecture and Design Excellence, HITS, says they are happy to collaborate with urban planners working in government departments where their students can gain practical experience.
Kodambakkam: An emerging transport hub
Chennai Metro Rail officials working on Corridor 4 in Phase II can probably take some ideas from the “Design Studio” assignment of final years students of School of Architecture and Interior Design, SRM Institute of Science and Technology, Kattankulathur. Close to 60 students worked on how “transit-oriented development” can improve Metro’s patronage on Corridor 4 which covers the line from Light House to Poonamallee. Field studies were undertaken in many potential stations on this stretch.
The group found that Luz Road – Mylapore junction is witnessing a lot of traffic congestion, pollution, with pedestrians bearing the brunt of the problem.
A circular foot overbridge connecting RK Mutt Road-Luz Road- Kutchery Road is a recommendation made towards regulating flow of traffic on the stretch.
Suren Adithyaa and team analysed the need to have an integrated transport hub in Kodambakkam. “This is among the few stations where EMU and Metro will meet,” says Suren. As per their analysis, Kodambakkam is one neighbourhood with a high residential population, where people travel to other places on work.
“Currently public transportation from Kodambakkam to arterial areas is good but not within the interior areas of the neighbourhood,” says Suren.
Last-mile connectivity to Choolaimedu, Trustpuram along with a multi-level car parking facility at Kodambakkam station is needed.
“Most stations have a facility for car parking but they cannot accommodate many cars. Anna Nagar East metro station is one such example. Multi-level parking if planned in advance would increase patronage of this corridor from the first year of its operation,” says P Purnachandar, faculty, Department of Architecture, SRMIST.
The students have also suggested that the lake front of Porur Lake be developed so that it can be an iconic station in the neighbourhood. Purnachandar says that their students from other semesters are currently helping CMDA in its Third Master Plan Proposal.