Date of Award

Spring 6-1-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master in Interior Architecture [Adaptive Reuse]


Interior Architecture

First Advisor

Jonathan Bell

Second Advisor

Julia Bernert

Third Advisor

Markus Berger


South India is known for its traditional belief systems and the numerous architectural manifestations of these beliefs. The scale and extravagance of temples and the palaces for the kings are an example of how important culture and ritual were in the past. Now some of these structures, such as the Thirumalai Nayakar Palace in the city of Madurai, the cultural capital of Tamil Nadu, stand in a modified societal context with no cultural or ritualized significance. Moreover, the host of this project, the Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal, situated in a city brimming with multiple sacred rituals performed along the city streets, characteristic of the city and state culture. The Tamil language forms a major part of this culture. Tamil Sangam, which were literary academies or corpus at which Tamil scholars discussed and recited Tamil poetry and other literary works, have played a pivotal role in the retainment of this unique culture. Analyzing the relevance and basis of the city’s sacred rituals provides a more nuanced understanding of the local culture and traditions of the society. Using basic elements of space management such as circulation, wayfinding and distinction of character of space, a new urban space can be created within the palace grounds to give a contemporary order and meaning to people using the host structure.

This thesis is a study of how societies with strong existing culture and sacred rituals can dictate the design of spaces inspired by the values rituals bring to life. The adaptive reuse of this space will demonstrate how history, culture and existing traditions can be used as materials to re-engage the public with a historic host structure. The Thirumalai Nayakar Palace will be adapted to the new context by spatially incorporating the essence of the existing sacred rituals and bring the community together through the common thread of Tamil Culture. Adapting these spatial cues will help create a space for all visitors that brings the people of Madurai together, creating a center for Tamil Culture through the celebration of the literature and the palace’s architecture itself.



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