Agraharam house

Year: September 2022 - February 2024

Location: Mambakkam, Chennai

Type: Restoration

Area: 1700 Sq.Ft

Once common, the traditional row houses called Agraharams are a vanishing part of Chennai's architectural heritage today. Well over a 100 years old, the entire streets occupied by Brahmins, agraharam architecture is distinctive with Madras terraces, country tile roofing, Burma teak rafters and lime plastering.

All houses had an open to sky courtyard in the centre called the mitham, large platforms lining the outside of the house called the thinnai and a private well in the backyard. The floors were often brick like flat tiles or coated with red oxide. The tiled roofs had glass insets to let in light beams.

As architects dedicated to preserving cultural heritage, we undertook the restoration of this agraharam house featured on this page, which was in shackles and almost in ruins in the outskirts of Chennai. Our approach centered on sustainability and historical integrity, utilizing up-cycled materials found on site. We carefully repurposed original roof tiles and brick floors, and sourced complementary elements such as old stone pillars and wooden joinery from second-hand markets. This restoration not only revitalizes the structure for modern use but also creates an inspiring space for guests to appreciate its historical significance. Furthermore, it provides a living classroom for school & college students to visit, learn, and document, fostering a deeper understanding of our architectural heritage.