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Vol. XXIX No. 19, January 15-31, 2020

Heritage Watch

It was in 2010 that the High Court of Madras in a landmark judgement, listed around 400 heritage buildings of Madras, which it deemed worthy of protection. Since then, much time has been wasted by the Government in setting up toothless committees that have done little or nothing. In the meanwhile, a subsequent judgement watered down the original one by interpreting that only the facades of heritage buildings need be protected. But even that has since been given the go by in implementation, with many listed structures in the 2010 judgement vanishing. Beginning with this fortnight, our Heritage Watch column will survey what survives and in what condition, with the judgement of 2010 as its basis.

Our first story concerns the Gordon Woodroffe building, listed in page 84 of the Justice E. Padmanabhan committee report, which was what the 2010 judgement used.

Page 1-1Our OLD is the Gordon Woodroffe building and its adjoining tea shop, featured in Somerset Playne’s Southern India (1914).
Page 1-2Our NOT SO NEW is a picture taken in 2010 of the same buildings.
Page 1-3Our NEW, by Shantanu Krishnan is the empty space following the demolition of the Gordon Woodroffe building early in 2019. The building to its right is that of the shipping agency JM Baxi, which was built to harmonise with its more imposing neighbour, an architectural sensitivity that is absent in the Chennai of today.

(Please see Lost Landmarks for more details.)

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