A study of transition spaces in traditional houses of Tamil Nadu


  • Dr P Kalaivani TIPS School of Architecture, Coimbatore
  • Dr S Pongomathi School of Environment Architecture & Design, SRMIST, Ramapuram, Chennai
  • Dr R Shanthi Priya School of Architecture & Interior Design, SRMIST, Kattankulathur, Chennai




Activity, Architectural thresholds, Thinnai, Traditional buildings, Transition spaces


Architecture is inevitably a mechanism for social purposes that could impact the personal and public levels. While architecture is used in many different ways, the arrangement and structure of places are fundamental and essential to people's lives. Thus, the people started to create spaces allowing them to eat, sleep, worship, learn, argue, recreate, and so on in a specific timeframe that has been subjected to the tradition and culture of people. This study is about one such traditional transition space - the thinnai that creates connectivity between the public and private zones in a housing typology. As evolution occurs, these structures, intended for various activities, have vanished, and compound wall structures have enclosed the dwellings. This shortens the connectivity to the external environment. In southern India, the thinnai spaces serve various socio-cultural activities. The typology of the thinnai spaces differs according to the regions of settlement, occupation and religious practices. Such spaces have been recreated due to the refurbishment of the buildings, which will not require them to serve their purpose. The main objective of the paper is to document and analyze the transitional spaces (known as thinnai or raised platform) prevailing near the entrance in the varied typology of traditional houses in a village in Tamil Nadu and to classify them based on the thresholds. The qualitative study was carried out through intense documentation analysis of transition spaces near thresholds in the varied typology of traditional houses in Mangalrevu village Tamil Nadu. The result of the study showed that the transitional spaces that exist near thresholds in traditional buildings have demonstrated extensive functionality and lie in harmony with the people's lifestyle. Further, the authors also classified the types of transition spaces with respect to the thresholds. It is considered the need of the hour to replicate these structures with the same meaning in modern dwellings without any compromises.