TOWNLAND was appointed in a consortium with Feedback Infra to prepare a Detailed Strategy and Master Plan for the Tamil Nadu Integrated Tourism Promotion Project. More than 300 of Tamil Nadu’s most important Tourism destinations (from ancient temples and archaeological sites, to forts, museums, hotels, beaches and lakefronts, natural parks and entire hill stations) were studied in depth and a long list of interventions proposed. The interventions are part of an overall strategy to create an integrated network of tourism products and services across the State, and make Tamil Nadu a more comprehensive and integrated Tourism Destination of international standard.
The Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) Hotels are often located at large sites, close to some of the most prominent tourist attractions. Smart strategic choices by the Authorities will aim to incentivise the Private Sector to upgrade or redevelop these key hotel locations that can help to put Tamil Nadu on the map as not just a cultural destination, but as a leisure tourism destination as well. TOWNLAND prepared Conceptual Master Plans for more than 15 existing TTDC hotels and several new large mixed use beachfront resorts. The Master Plan interventions focus on creating a leisure experience aimed at the modern traveller, with a strong Sense-of-Place inspired by natural surroundings and by planning a building layout and surrounding landscape with a seamless indoor-outdoor transition.
Some of Tamil Nadu’s most iconic Heritage and Cultural attractions including Forts, Theme Parks, Spiritual Retreats, Hill Stations and other attractions require substantial interventions focusing on renovation (especially of non-religious heritage structures), redevelopment of indoor and outdoor facilities and introduction of a broader mix of tourist attractions to these sites and their immediate surroundings. Strategic parking and eco-friendly mobility options, combined with a more pedestrian friendly environment need to be aimed for. A common theme in TOWNLAND’s Master Plans are the introduction of a wide choice of restaurants, cafes, shops and outdoor leisure and recreational activities, set within an attractive built landscape in order to appeal to a diversity of visitors including the International traveller.
To address this, Site Interpretation / Tourist Facilitation Centres are proposed at many of the Sites throughout the State. TOWNLAND prepared a prototype design, that can be built many times over (with small adjustments to its size and layout, based on local site conditions and functional requirements), facilitating major cost savings in the construction of these Site Interpretation / Tourist Facilitation Centres. The prototype design also ensures that the standard of quality in the final design, materials and functionality is guaranteed, from the largest tourist attractions to the smaller, remote or less visited sites. The Site Interpretation / Tourist Facilitation Centres will become a familiar landmark for travelling tourists throughout the State, with their distinctive design which will be easily recognised. Two different Architectural Designs have been developed: one that is appropriate to be built in a more urban environment, close to a protected heritage building (often a Temple) and one that is fitting with the green, countryside landscape (often near the entrance of nature parks).
In relation to their urban context, the Temple Towns of Tamil Nadu demonstrate the need for a solution that tackles the problems of urban congestion, disorder, and ambiguity of access and circulation in a religious setting. TOWNLAND’s Master Plans for the Temple Sites focus on creating an infrastructural language that acknowledges the commercialisation around the Temples and the sensitivity to the traditionally bound (religious) culture, while allowing for a layered cultural ambiance, which can be enjoyed by all kinds of people; from local residents and visitors to the temples, to pilgrims and tourists.
The main gopuram (towergate) is one of the main attractions for tourists when visiting the Temples and can only be admired from a distance. To allow for the gopuram to take centre stage in the Pilgrims’ and Tourists’ experience, the overall strategy for public space planning around the Temples in Tamil Nadu will be to focus on pedestrianisation, traffic calming and parking management. The strategy is for available (Temple or Government owned) plots in the area to become designated Car Park areas. All visitors will comfortably disembark from their vehicle at the first part of the Sannidhi Street where, through traffic calming measures, more pedestrian space is created and cars are only allowed to drive in one direction. The second part of Sannidhi Street, closest to the Temple is completely pedestrianised; using its historical, cultural and spatial significance to bring back some of its faded glory, by allowing visitors to walk up to the Temple unhindered by traffic and parked vehicles.