In 2010, the fitting-out and interiors of a 5518 square meter auditorium facility for Chettinad Health City in Chennai were designed by the architecture firm Morphogenesis to be used as part of the medical institute. Morphogenesis is among the country’s leading award-winning architectural and urban design studios. The venture was founded by architects Manit Rastogi and Sonali Rastogi in 1996 with offices set up in Mumbai, Bengaluru, and New Delhi. The practice aims at reinterpreting regional design roots and uses passive architectural solutions for a unique contextual language. 

The Design Approach | Chettinad Health City

The Chettinad Health City, a global center for research and development, has been designed to cater to daily stage performances, lectures, conferences, presentations, projection of recorded medical information webcasts & broadcasts, and a lot more.

Morphogenesis’ design choice for creating a bold and contemporary aesthetic embodies the progressive stance and breaks the monotony of conventional city auditoriums that are generally perceived to be monolithic, simple boxy structures lined with internal acoustic paneling. The aim was to break away from the typical morphology of city auditoriums and build a more visually dynamic design. Limited resources were another key factor in the design. To use only that which was essential – like acoustic material, was the starting point. A faceted and fluid surface texture was formed by employing geometric tessellations throughout the surface. The lighting systems too were designed in ribbon-like coves running within the acoustic board lines, the dynamics accompanying the constantly changing size and intensity of lights and shadows with the movement of the Sun, through the course of the day, add a vibrant twist throwing a dynamic play of light and shadow into the auditorium. A basic element like acoustic boards was pushed to create a tectonic play owing to a limited palette and a need for resource optimization; two defining parameters in this project.

The auditorium is located in Chennai, a cosmopolitan city and the gateway to South India. Chennai’s culture reflects its diverse population: though Chennai is a modern metropolis, the city continues to embrace ancient traditions in many ways. The city auditorium project was exploited to be used as an opportunity to design something which would symbolize the culture and views of Chennai’s people. Chennai is known to have played an immense role in the establishment of South India’s historical and cultural expansion. Morphogenesis founders and architects Manit Rastogi and Sonali Rastogi’s design approach is illustrative of Chennai’s youthful stance and the city auditorium’s interior exemplifies the same. 

Chettinad Health City by Morphogenesis - Sheet1
Chettinad Health City_©ArchDaily

Inside the Auditorium

To shift away from the repetitiveness of an unadorned environment of typical auditoriums, Morphogenesis employed contemporary forms as insertions to build continuous surfaces which were conceived to be in the form of lines and planes that extended from the floor level to the wall and the ceiling, thus connecting all three surfaces. The entire structure including the ceilings, walls, and floors of the auditorium appears as a single whole surface. Wooden Slots devised as portals were specifically designed as insertions for the walls to hold HVAC, lighting systems, audio-visual and acoustic systems.

The material resources and palette were restrained to let the continuity of the surfaces be perceived. To augment the randomness of the false ceiling, recesses clad in timber were made to puncture the ceiling. The wide expanse of foyer spaces is broken through several geometric patterns. A similar pattern is reflected on the auditorium ceiling in multiple layers to endow the interiors with a sense of enclosure and to portray its dynamism. The cove lighting and recessed light fixtures illuminate the strong lines and planes across the auditorium and ensure that the purity of the forms and construction materials is accentuated, while further dramatizing the space. The three-dimensional geometric patterns that run through the fabric-mounted, acoustical wall panels and ceilings of the Chettinad Health City Auditorium eventually build a three-dimensional envelope. 

Chettinad Health City by Morphogenesis - Sheet2
Chettinad Health City_©ArchDaily

Key Achievements

The city auditorium project delivered on the desired parameters to successfully meet the acoustic requirements. Moreover, the beautiful pattern on the auditorium walls and ceilings, and the geometric pattern on the false ceiling in the banquet area bagged the IIID award for its unique design.

Chettinad Health City by Morphogenesis - Sheet3
Chettinad Health City_©ArchDaily

Key Challenges

The auditorium’s interiors had to be carefully designed, acoustically sound, have a modern look, and offer uniform sound distribution. The banquet area features an innovative step design in an interesting pattern; the design was a huge challenge for Morphogenesis owing to interlocking layers and boards that were at oblique angles and required precise fixing.

Stakeholders | Chettinad Health City

The auditorium building is owned by the Chettinad Academy of Research & Education. The architect for the project was Morphogenesis Architecture Studio, founded by Manit Rastogi and Sonali Rastogi. Deva Interiors Pvt Ltd was the main contractor for interiors and the contractor for drylining/plaster. Gyproc Saint Gobain provided the solutions for the wall lining and Gyproc boards on Gypsteel framing for the false ceiling for the auditorium space and Banquet area. Morphogenesis has also worked with clients across different industries. The firm’s major clients include: Apollo Tyres, Infosys, Pearl Academy- Jaipur, Trump Tower, and Delhi Art Gallery. 


Sowmya is an architectural journalist and writer. In this column, Sowmya takes you through stories on eco-architecture, biophilic design, and green buildings from across the globe.