Urban Exploration

Revitalization of Abandoned Quarry, Chennai

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The industrial revolution provided us with the engineering and power necessary to make profound economic and social change. However, with this unprecedented growth and new found prosperity, an abuse of natural resources and our environment initiated a trajectory of unforeseeable consequences. Today, we are leaving our historically wasteful and turbulent manufacturing economy in favor of a seemingly more stable and mainstream digitally driven era. With this, we are seeing the massive areas of disrupted land that once stood to represent the height of innovation and success appearing as abandoned wastelands all over the world. With the quest to redevelop these areas lies the opportunity to re-imagine the definition of public space and green infrastructure.

This thesis takes a critical eye to previous and current design strategies of industrial landscapes and identifies new typologies relevant within this construct. Using a Gravel quarry with abandoned area as its site, this thesis proposes a master plan to reclaim, restore, and reuse the quarry as an alluring recreational green space for the surrounding community. In seeking a redefinition of the urban park, this thesis argues that a new type of cultural parkland is needed that envelope structures, that conversed and ground that responds to 21st century living.

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Ecological evolution of the Quarry
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Careful analysis of Site conditions was carried out to assess its potential.

This proposal uses a series of architectural interventions to respond to sites visual character and fill the recreational needs of the community. How can a forward looking architecture acknowledge a surrounding context defined by its past? This thesis aims to capture the knowledge of previous violent enterprise, physical industrial remnants, topographic qualities of a Quarried landscape, and the character of the surrounding community in order to fuse architecture with its industrial surroundings. Through this entwined relationship of architecture and its surrounding landscape the project is able to provide unique amenities that embrace the quarry’s industrial heritage. The proposal sees what has been abandoned not as waste, but as an opportunity to redefine the cultural park in order to create dynamic and engaging spaces.

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Zoomed in segment of the plan (Refer attached document for better viewing)


“The modern park is no longer seen as a quiet rural green, but as a sparkling and overcharged urban crossroads” – AdriaanGeuze


Creating the Urban Landscape of tomorrow

The evolution of industries in the last quarter of the 21st century has been characterised by the abandonment of industrial areas. This trend is ongoing and is pushing rapidly toward urban areas. With this, cities are confronting change by reprogramming these postindustrial spaces, and people are changing their aesthetic sensibilities and attitudes toward natural and man-made environments.

By redefining these sites as public green space, we can capture the unique qualities and benefits of their industrial past to provide green infrastructure that hosts new architectural opportunities and amenities for its surrounding community. The recreational services provided by these sites will have both environmental and social benefits. The parks of tomorrow will become the basis of a thriving metropolitan culture. Parks implemented in these post-industrial areas will allow for shared experiences that give rise to mutual respect in the community and act as landmarks within our cities that represent growth and prosperity the way their previous industrial nature once did.

This thesis accepts the challenge that lies in incorporating natural processes into architectural interventions and looks to the land itself to identify design opportunities. The form and content of the pavilions and constructed landscape is developed through historical traces, local associations, indigenous plants, and regional materials in order to provide a new form of public space, while simultaneously embracing the identity of the monumental landscape defined by man.

Periswamy says, “My thesis is a conversation…. Not a silent one but a celebration of the gorgeous laid down mass – THE QUARRY”

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This publication is a collaboration between Hashtag Urbanism and Nikhil Sriram Periaswamy, based on his Undergraduate Design Thesis, “Revitalisation of Abandoned Quarry, Chennai.”, compiled in the document below. (Zoom in to the document to view the beautiful detailing of the spaces.)


Institution – MEASI Academy of Architecture, Chennai.

Review Members – Prof. Priya Sasidharan, Prof. Sachidanandam, Ar. Aravind Rangan (Aravind Varuna Associates)
Thesis Guide – Ar. S.F. Salma.

Noteworthy mention – Winner, NIASA (National Institute of Advanced Studies in Architecture) Thesis Awards South Zone, Top shortlisted entry in ArchiPrix International 2017, Shortlisted- ISARCH Awards.

Nikhil Sriram Periaswamy is currently pursuing his Master in Architecture in Chennai and graduated Bachelors in Architecture from MEASI Academy of Architecture, Chennai. He is currently involved in testing various methodologies in urban systems to understand and create “Liveable” urban spaces, and a series of art compositions called GEOMETRY which is at the publication state.


The Romance in Abandonment

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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.



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


|  SHELL  |

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


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


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Shattered panes break the cityscape into frames
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A rule breaker, in a string of order
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Art where the light gets in. Graffiti is a prevalent scene in abandoned spaces.
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Hanging by a slim thread
Memories past; forgotten and lost.


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




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