Chennai architecture

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Architecture after the floods of 2015

The Times of India Feb 03 2016

(i) Minimum elevation of 3 feet, (ii)workers place concrete bricks to raise the height of the house, (iii)steps to get a house off the ground

Karthikeyan Hemalatha

Structures Lifted Up To 6ft; Firms Offering The Service Say They Are Fully Booked Till July

During the floods, Chennaiites rose to the occa sion to help one another. After the floods, Chennaiites are now raising their houses in an attempt to be safe from another possible disaster. To stay safe in the event of another flood, residents, especially from the southern suburbs like Velachery, Madipakkam and Kottivakkam, are employing private contractors to lift their houses by several feet.

From the street, the construction looks normal -complete with concrete, wooden planks, and slush all over the place. A closer look reveals the ingenuity of it. Rows of `jacks' -like the ones used to lift lorries and change their punctured tyres -seem to be holding the house up. The labourers have literally lifted the house. They lay rows of concrete bricks to fill up the gaps and increase the height of the house permanently.

In Chennai, several contractors offer these services.“Post floods, we have been inundated with enquiries. We “Post floods, we have been inundated with enquiries. We are currently working on seven projects and are fully booked till July,“ said Rishikanth from Mamchand & Sons, based in Haryana. They charge 250 per square foot. The minimum height to be lifted is three feet. For every foot above that, it would cost 75 per square foot.

Some structural engineers think this is not safe. “The column from the foundation is cut. And the building ceases to be a monolithic structure. But that is what gives strength to buildings,“ said N Kanagavel, a structural engineer. Mamchand & Sons managing director Harkesh Kumar says there is no risk of structural weakness. “Utmost care goes into planning. Our patent is under pro planning. Our patent is under process and we are recognised by the Central government,“ he said.

Pinning no hopes on the corporation, which is supposed to ensure that there is no water stagnation on the roads, these residents are going the extra mile, or foot, to ensure water does not enter their houses. “During the floods, I lost TV, bed, bureau, the sarees in it, and all wooden furniture. Even the tenant on the ground floor vacated. I have no choice but to do this,“ said K Riyaz, a resident of Pammal. “At first, I was not sure if this would keep the building safe. I went around and checked. Besides, I have no other choice,“ he added.

The corporation re-lays the road every year and the height keeps increasing. “Eventually, the road is on a higher plane than the ground, which allows water to enter our compound,“ said N Mukund, a resident of Velachery.

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