Climate responsive design principles in Dravidian temples A case study of Nellaiappar temple

S, Pongomathi ; R, Shanthi Priya ; M, Nallamal Sobana


The main objective of this paper is to focus on climate responsive design strategies adopted in one of the Dravidian temples, the Nellaiyappar temple, Tirunelveli, as a case example. Temples were the main gathering space and also a source of recreation in the olden days. The temple complexes are spaces with cultural vibrancy. The areas in and around the temple complexes are designed with consideration of the local climatic factors. Each space is designed per the activity, rituals held, and the climatic considerations of that region. In pursuing the investigation, the paper focuses on two main objectives. The first part of the study was to analyse the evolution of Dravidian temples with ages and its space planning within the temple complex. The planning of the temple complex and the materials used in the construction have crossed several transitions, starting from the rock-cut temples to structural temples. The evolution happened across various dynasties, from the Pallava dynasty to Nayaks. The second part of the study was to investigate the influence of climatic factors of the place on the planning of the temple and its precincts. Directly or indirectly, the climatic condition of the site controls the planning features and materials used in construction. Literature analyses of both objectives were done, and to examine them, Nellaiyappar temple, Tirunelveli, was taken as a case example. The study was done using a single method analysis that includes qualitative analysis. This qualitative study was done by a live case study visit to the temples, and further investigation was conducted by reading the plans, photographs, sketches, and sections. The entire temple complex was analysed qualitatively and found that responsive climate strategies were evident in the Nellaiyappar temple, and the design ideas may be adopted in modern temple typologies.


Climatic design parameters, Climate responsive design, Dravidian temples, Nellaiyappar temple, Transition of worshipping spaces

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