The Romance in Abandonment

Melancholic tales from a system in despair

Chennai has the distinction of having the first elevated Rapid transit system in the country, the MRTS (Mass Rapid Transit System). Born out of a transport study by the Metropolitan Transport Project in the 1980s, the MRTS was proposed as a 20 km elevated and on-grade railway corridor with 17 stations, to ease the congestion along a throbbing transit route from the Central Business District to the fast-growing IT corridor.

Mylapore station platform
Passengers await the next train at the Mylapore MRTS station platform. The wide arched-truss roof allows a golden sun-glow into the space.

Envisioned to be a vital transit system with  the stations having additional commercial and institutional functions, the vast majority of the“air-space” in these hubs now lies in dire disuse, gradually and steadily moving to misuse. Caught in a vicious cycle of disuse and lack of revenue for maintenance which causes even further disuse, the system is caught in a complex concoction of decay – the  Buckhingam canal and dead spaces between the stations further adding to the poison.

However, there is a specific aesthetic that exists amongst architecture in the absence of routine human interaction- the aesthetic of decay.This aesthetic develops over time, as buildings cease to function in the way they were originally designed to do so; It develops naturally, as Nature reclaims what was originally it’s own and Man leaves behind his trails. A photographic exploration through the dying spaces helps identify any existent hope, potential and dreams of a better future.


|  CONTEXT  |

 

a5
Decay abounds. A foot-bridge connecting the Thiruvallikeni station to the slum behind it. During evenings, this becomes a playground of sorts for children.
7 (12)
The system was planned to run along the banks, and at some places, right into the Buckhingam canal to avoid land acquisition problems.
a3
Parallel paths |  Similar Fates
2 (8)
Desolate back lanes. Meant to be a service lane connecting the Kasturbha, Indiranagar and Thiruvanmiyur hubs.
5 (4)
Assertive reticence. Columns holding the tracks above create a sheltered pathway beneath, awaiting the human’s feet.

 


|  SHELL  |

7 (2)
Deserted atrium in the Greenways station. Even during peak hours, some stations do not get much passengers.
4 (3)
Daily residents catching a nap
b1
Spacious desolate volumes broken by large silent piers.
3 (2)
Blank canvas. A remnant banner from a photo exhibition in 2012 hangs unnoticed, Thiruvanmiyur.

 

zz
Man’s trails
7 (20)
Left-overs from last night provide some clues to the kind of use the shadowed spaces are put to.

|  PANES IN PAIN  |

7 (8)
Shattered panes break the cityscape into frames
e (1)
A rule breaker, in a string of order
cover intro
Art where the light gets in. Graffiti is a prevalent scene in abandoned spaces.
e (2)
Hanging by a slim thread
zzza
Memories past; forgotten and lost.

|  HIDE AND SEEK  |

3 (5)
A grand orchestra of sunlight breaks in from the main entrance, Thiruvanmiyur.
3 (1)
Streaks of light peel the shadows, Thiruvanmiyur.
7 (3)
Shutters can block paths, not Light.

 

|  PEOPLE AND ENCOUNTERS  |

 

3 (9)
Walking across the Concourse, Thiruvanmiyur, the highest used station in all 17.
D
Empty ticket queues waiting for human lines.
4 (1)
Playground. Children indulge in a bit of activity at the entrance, Kotturpuram.
4 (2)
The world is my playground. A child cycles up and down the ramp meant for differently-abled entryway, Kotturpuram.
1 (7)
Silent enough to sleep. A child sleeps on the entrance porch of Kasthurba Nagar station, oblivious to surrounding chaos.

 

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