Architectural Heritage Safeguarding
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bad future
bad future
bad future
bad future
bad future
bad future

Current situation in Chettinad


This region went into decline about sixty years ago as a result of major economic difficulties following the independence of Burma (Myanmar) and Malaysia.  This in turn led to the gradual disappearance of the urban and architectural heritage.

Today, besides a few palatial homes which are still maintained by the families for the purpose of important occasions and gatherings, a considerable amount of houses have been already demolished, and those which have survived, whose exact number is yet to be determined, are in a critical state of conservation.  For various reasons, in particular the lack of financial means of the owners and a joint ownership, the houses are dismantled for the purpose of sale.  This could totally wipe out the living evidence of a way of life, of an extraordinary page in history, which constituted the cultural wealth of India.  The dismantling of houses has led to a lucrative antiques business and many architectural elements, in particular pillars and doors have been exported all over the world from Kochi, Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi.  In 1947, there were 96 villages in Chettinad.  Today, there are only 75.  What will remain of their unique heritage in ten years?

Bad future

Development without planning and regulations will entail the loss of Chettinad’s heritage. A specific regional plan will be necessary to outline the possibilities of heritage-based development which would include the following: Definition of the heritage zone; height of the buildings; alignments; types of windows; materials and colours. Connectivity, mobility and public facilities also have to be considered.

Massive Desertion, Demolition, Lack of Maintenance

Altough Kandukathan is still a great testimony to the past glory of the community’s lifestyle, it is estimated that a large number of heritage houses have already been demolished such as shown below with red. Only the mounds on which the homes were built remain or sometimes an entrance door or a portion of wall. The disappearance of these homes is a significant loss of living heritage for the different communities in the region.