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Madras Art House
Madras Art House

Location: Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Project Work Status: Completed Projects

The Cholamandal Artists village named after the ancient Chola kings who were great patrons of Art as is evident from their magnificent temples in their capital (Tanjore). The Chola's influence spread to the corners of Asia and the rest of the world. In 1965, the Madras Movement of Art crystallized around the legendary KCS Paniker who along with likeminded Artists set up their residences and studios in a rural setting on the sandy beaches of the Bay of Bengal. The Artists Village is acclaimed as among the successful and surviving art communes in the world.

In the beginning there was an Artists Gallery in a modest structure of thatch. With international acclaim and growing stature the Artists wanted to exhibit their signature works in a permanent structure. A core team of great artists comprising of Nandagopal, Senathipathi, Gopi and Senthil coordinated the project.

An important criterion was to design the structure without affecting the trees, and the sculptures in the landscape. The first design wrapped the volute shaped structures around them. The team opted for a more contemporary structure in tune with the skills of the local masons and craftsmen. The display areas were maximized in rectilinear shaped galleries with natural daylight and high ceilings. The galleries opened to the gigantic trees and the sculptures blended into the landscape.

The common entry led to the Gallery and the Museum that each opened out as two wings from the entry space. The staggered placement of the two display areas helped retain the existing landscape.

The larger wing, housed the permanent exhibit area and the museum area of the building. The focus of the design was to get as much natural light as possible while cutting out the glare and heat. This was achieved by orienting the openings to get in the glare free lighting from the north.

The building was treated with exposed brickwork and concrete. No additional plaster or painting was envisaged. The lofted spaces in the museum/ permanent exhibit wing, overlooking the lower level spaces, navigates natural light into all corners of the building.