Ripon building, Chennai with Madras terrace roofing and other architectural features

 One among the iconic colonial buildings of Chennai, no doubt the  majestic 3 story all white masonry structure gets the attention of lots heritage lovers, history buffs and visitors for the simple reason that it is a fine example of a blend of Neoclassical (marked by large columns on the facade pediment, semi-circular arches), Indo - Saracenic style (marked by clock tower minaret, internal court yard and pierced colonnaded arcade) and Gothic and  Corinthian style with tall large columns. The first of its three floors has approximately 2,800 m2 (30,139 sq ft) of space (?) and the total floor area is approximately whooping 90,000 sq ft.  

Pediment carrying the year, Ripon building, 

Ripon Bldg, Chennai. Clock

Ripon building, Chennai,

Ripon building,Chennai,

Above images: Note the tall Corinthian columns on the fa├žade all around the Ripon building, Chennai (built in 1913).......

 The note-worthy feature of  Ripon building is wide adaptation of native roof ceiling technique  known as Madras Terrace Celling roof.  The entire structure has imposing Madras terrace ceiling.

Madras terrace roof,

Cross section of Madras terrace roof.

Madras Terrace Roof is an age old tradition-bound roof construction technique, involving required  wooden beams and rafters generally teak, across the two opposite walls requiring a roof, with each beam placed about 18 to 24 inches apart. Very thin, high density clay bricks, called ‘achikal or Thattoddu (widely used in the delta region of Thanjavur) placed on their edges, diagonally, make up the roof and are bonded with lime mortar. Madras terrace roofing. was widely adopted in the olden days when flat roofs were becoming popular 

The vernacular flat roof forms had one or the other problems as the rain water won't drain  out easily on the upper most terrace if there are broken debris and trashes  or drain holes are plugged, for which the terrace has to have gradient on all side or gentle slope on both sides to drain out water. Periodic clearing of trash, etc.,  on the upper terrace is a must.  To carry the load, normally high density and high strength clay bricks, made to special thin size measuring 1”x3”x6”, are used in Madras terracing. The vertically placed tiles are overlaid by a layer of flat tiles with lime mortar

In order to last longer, prevent leakage, water  and maintain steady shine, the walls  in the old building were constructed with stock bricks (meaning  common type of brick stocked in a locality, or a handmade brick made using a stock) set and plastered with ground lime sand  mortar blended with jaggery gal-nut Kadukka and egg yolk. The Madras terrace  roofing made of lime mortar with similar blend is supported with teak wood joists.

The British colonists chose to adapt this roof style in their buildings in many parts of India because of  various reasons such as reduction in radiation and heat from the roof, water-resistant, durability and easy restoration.  
Ripon building, Chennai, Maras ceiling.

Ripon bldg. Madras roof

Above image: Ripon building ,Chennai: The  architect adopted Madras terrace ceiling  to suite the hot tropical climate of Madras (Chennai). The long veranda is covered with Madras roof with wooden rafters  placed across, connecting the main wall and the outer edge of the veranda.... 
Ripon building, Chennai

Above image: Ripon building, Chennai: Elements of Neo-classical and Indo-Saracenic features. Note the tall Corinthian columns overlooking the garden areas. Corinthian architecture with Greek and Roman influences include attractive  motifs over the large windows.
Stairway, Ripon bldg.

Above image: Wooden stairway, Ripon building. Wide stairway with carefully carved wooden rails with  floral and trellis motifs on the thick teak staircase connecting the first and the second floor of the building. Photo Credit: JOTHI RAMALINGAM B .....................