Sunday, May 31, 2009

Yal devi to Rise again!

find here an interesting website on rebuilding the Yal devi railway line

Is Barrelism dead?

Our jolly old fine arts teacher in the first year at the Architecture Faculty, Mr. Chandraguptha Thenuwara (Thené similar to René as he used to humorously call himself) pollutedour minds with his ideas of barrelism and neo barrelsim. His art installations themed with barrels painted in camouflage colours depict the ideology which he tryed to convey.
The artist talks extensively about his ideas of barrelism here.
After seeing an end to this 30 year old war, will we see a modification to barrel theory? are we at the end of the barrel era? we can only wonder and Thené would probably have an answer already!

Sponge bob and Architecture School

"Artist Unknown" In sponge bob season 2 episode 18 depicts how most of the schools of Architecture work. I just had to post it.
The plot is as follows, Squidward is teaching art class, and can't wait to see his new students. He opens the doors and greets a whole crowd of people, who say "Is this cooking class?" They go to cooking class, and Squidward sees who his real students are. There is only one. SpongeBob SquarePants. Squidward starts off with the basics, and tells him to draw a circle. He draws a perfect circle, and Squidward is shocked. He later tries to teach him how to make marble statues, but it seems that he can do it himself with a bit of encouragement from Squidward. Squidward, out of jealousy, feels sorry for SpongeBob, who goes out of class. SpongeBob feels ashamed of himself and runs away, to a city dump. When the class is over, an art collector called Monty P. Moneybags comes in and says he'll make Squidward famous for the statue (Which SpongeBob actually made). He trips over while transporting it, knocking off its head. He says that Monty will come back tomorrow to get another one that will "really knock your socks off." Squidward rushes down to the dump where SpongeBob went, and gives SpongeBob another chance. However, upon returning to art class, SpongeBob refuses to do anything of decent quality in Squidward's class, and when he constructs a marble statue, his block collapses. Squidward is so angry that he smashes pillars of marble to make a mess. Monty P. Moneybags comes in and says "Who's responsible for this?" Squidward goes to the janitor and says "He is!" He never realised it, but he made a beautiful statue while throwing a fit.
The posted video is in double speed so one might not be able to follow it directly that's why i just pasted the summery taken from here.

Find the script of this episode here

Sri Lanka’s first coal power plant under construction

Construction work on Sri Lanka’s first coal power plant is underway in Norochcholai. Journalists were taken to the site yesterday to get a first hand view of the progress of the project. Pic by Pradeep Pathirana

Friday, May 29, 2009

Breaking Wind in Sri Lanka

Wind power is the fastest growing industry in the alternative energy sector. Wind turbines generate clean and green power for us but they have certain precondition.One of it is the power unit has to be set up in strong wind area. But Green Energy Technologies has developed a brand new wind power generator known as the WindCube. It is smaller compared to the normal wind generator. WindCube is specially designed to set up on the roof of a building in urban and rural areas. WindCube carries a 22 x 22 x 12 feet framework and its single unit can produce a maximum of 60kW of power. Mark L. Cironi, who is the president and founder of Green Energy Technologies, explains, “Building owners anywhere can consider being a part of the renewable energy picture. With WindCube, it’s not necessary to have the wind of Kansas or Nebraska to become a generator of wind power. In states with excellent renewable energy incentives, moderate wind and high electric rates, the payback can be as little as three years.”

CEB took the initiative to carry out a detailed wind-monitoring programme in the south-eastern part of the country in 1988. The area covered under this project was about 1500 km2. Initial studies of wind resource assessment in the Southern coastal belt of Sri Lanka was conducted during the period from 1988 to 1992 with financial and technical assistance from the Government of the Netherlands. The study revealed that the total potential of wind power generation in the South-eastern part of the country to be 200 MW. This excluded the land area for wild life reserves and agriculture.

Following the resource assessment phase, CEB started to plan its first grid-connected wind power plant of capacity 3 MW to be sited in Hambantota on the south-eastern coast. It was planned as a pilot plant for CEB to get hands-on experience and also to study the implications of integrating wind power into the grid system. Feasibility study and design of the plant were carried out using the database developed by the earlier wind resources study.

The total capacity of the pilot wind farm is 3 MW consisting of 5 wind turbines of 600 kW each. The expected annual energy generation is around 4.5 GWh. The project was financed by the World Bank and Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and was commissioned in March 1999. The total project cost was around Rs. 280 million, of which 66% was foreign funds and 34% local. The foreign cost of the project was financed by the World Bank and the Global Environmental Fund, whereas the total local cost was borne by the CEB. Approximately 25% the foreign cost was provided by GEF as grant.

The semi-annual progress report for year 2000 for this project is available at SAR. This report consists of two sections (A) Pre construction and construction experience and (B) Update on the energy production and operational problems associated with the project. The objective of the report is to share the experiences of the pilot project with the general public and to assist and guide future wind power developers in Sri Lanka.

Although Practical action sites some very valuable information regarding wind energy here, the doing part is more or less non existent. when I contacted them last year with regard to a project that I was working on, an irritated person at the other end said that they haven't done any wind turbine projects in Sri Lanka.

How ever I do recall in 2005 reading a leaflet with regard to a company which manufactures domestic wind turbines in Sri Lanka. I was unable to locate them.

With the present state of develepmont in Hambantota I would like to see if setting up of some more windturbines to the already existing bunch would be economically viable.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

An Air Port for Trinco!

By Kurulu Kariyakarawana
The Immigration and Emigration Department is to take over operations at the Trincomalee Harbour from next month and will establish a sub office in the district, as a move towards preparing for the proposed international airport to be developed in China Bay in the future. Immigration and Emigration Chief P.B. Abeykoon said the department would set up a sub office in Trincomalee to take over duties at the Trincomalee Harbour from June 15. He said presently the duties at the Trincomalee Harbour had been conducted by the police due to security reasons and now that the war was over the operations would be taken over by the department. Mr. Abeykoon said that in future all operations like checking people and vessels that would be anchoring in the harbour, freight forwarding operations etc., would be monitored and would be done under the purview of the department. He said the new arrangements were being put in place as a part of the development and rehabilitation programmes being carried out in the Eastern Province to upgrade industries like tourism following the liberation of the areas from terrorism. Mr. Abeykoon said discussions were being held at official level to upgrade the China Bay airport now under the Air Force, to an international airport in future. “The project is chiefly being handled by the Civil Aviation Authority and the Department of Immigration and Emigration will also be involved in arranging other necessities like opening an office in the area. The day is not very far where passenger planes could land in Trincomalee,” he said. Airport and Aviation Deputy Minister Sarath Kumara Gunaratne told Daily Mirror the government was planning to upgrade all minor domestic airports in the country with better facilities and new technology. He said airports like Hingurakgoda, Koggala and China Bay will be upgraded to develop domestic trips which will directly influence the trade of tourism in future. The Minister said work on the second international airport in Hambantota which was shifted to Mattala from Weerawila due to environmental issues would also begin soon.

An international Airport for Trinco? Why is everything becoming international lately, wouldn't a domestic airport do? Banudev at Skyscraper city has his own views since he seems to be really keen about airports, he goes on to say...

"Developing the Trimcomalee airport might work for Sri Lanka. It has plenty of area for future developments and aircraft parking. But China-Bay's current runway is 2393metres long and there is no way to extend the runway as it has blocked by river.... Therefore, they must need the 2nd runway with atleast 3500 metres long to allow the large aircraft landing. Trimcomalee could be used for serving Far East and Indian flights."

Image copyright Banudev@skyscrapercity

Also an interesting link to Banudev's Airport web site can be found here

Monday, May 25, 2009

The future of Sri Lankan Architecture!

Quantitative triumphs over the qualitative!

Is this the future of Architecture in Sri Lanka?

Flight of the Birds of Bundala: The Bundala Wildlife Park

Bundala wildlife park complex was completed in 2006, and is also one of the designs of Architect Sunil Gunawardena. The initial concept for the entire design, as the architect explains evolved through studying of the flight of birds.

Bundala is a bird watchers paradise, with the attention increasing on the Hambanthota development there is no doubt that more and more nature lovers will flock to this nature wonderland.

Perched on the highest point of the compound one would be able to see how these buildings are visible to the birds. The structures rise up from the bushes like dinosaurs of prehistoric times with the monolithic Zinc allum sheets which are the only elements visible.

The concrete decks and minimalistic finishes, the trademarks of the architect lingers on every nook, As the architect himself mentions, being true to himself at all times

Building without Buildings : Minneriya Wildlife Park

With the trademark phrase of "Building without buildings" Architect Sunil Gunawardena has accomplished what few Sri Lankan Architects have been able to do. Using minimalistic Architectural grammar he has created international standard designs in the six wildlife parks he was commishened to design.

Minneriya wild life park has been designed so that the buildings merge with the humble and forgotten brick architectural wonders of times by gone which litter the pollonnaruwa area.

Using decked walkways inorder to minimise the effect on the natural landscape he goes on to create an adventure out of a mundane building.

Using indigenous materials and indigenous flavors, the architect creates some thing very unique which is ultimately true to our culture and to ourselves.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Prayer & Meditation Pavillion / Studio Tam associati

Architects: Studio Tam associati
Location: Khartoum, Popular Republic of Sudan
Client: EMERGENCY ngo
Site Engineers: Roberto Crestan (EMERGENCY ngo)
Program Coordinator: Pietro Parrino (EMERGENCY ngo)
Photographs: Raul Pantaleo & Marcello Bonfanti
The prayer and meditation pavilion is an integral part of the recently realized Cardiac surgery centre in Sudan, built by the Italian humanitarian organization, EMERGENCY NGO. The complex, planned and designed by Tamassociati architecture studio, is the only one of its kind to provide free health-care to patients in an extensive area within a ten million square km. radius and counting three hundred million inhabitants.
The Popular Republic of Sudan is a country that, over the past twenty years, has been scourged from numerous Inter-ethnic as well as Inter-religious wars.

The Arab Ethnic group constitutes 39% of the population and 61% of Africans; and in terms of religion, 70% of people in Sudan are Muslim, while the remaining 30% are Christian or belonging to other religious faiths (”Human Rights Watch”: Q&A: Crisis in Darfur 05/05/2004).
We needed to think of a place that could accommodate prayer, as customary in any place of health-care, so we had to deal with the difficult dilemma of thinking of a space that could host the spiritual complexity of this country.

floor plan

Our choice was not to privilege any specific religion, but to create a space that could accommodate the prayer and meditation of all faiths.
The outside hosts a large water pool, as a strongly symbolic image in this sub-Saharan zone. The pool creates a spiritual separation between the external macrocosm of the hospital/world and the ventral microcosm of the building formed by two unaligned white cubes, which are connected by a semi-transparent cover of palm leaf stalks.
The inner parts of the two cubes contain two trees, which render these profane spaces sacred with their presence, as natural elements inside artificial spaces.

We obviously had to seriously consider the Muslim faith, which is the religion of the majority of the Sudanese, along with the religion’s rules (ablutions, separation of men and women), but we decreased the contextual impact of those rules in order not to make them appear dominant. This was made possible by concealing all symbols and elements that are specific to only one religion. For example, the ablution area is nothing more than a higher water spray that, before entrance, allows for washing without connoting a strong religious symbol, and it is simply perceived as an element of the water pool.

Zero Emissions Motorcycle

When we think about green energy vehicles we often think about modest designs and low speeds. But 6 final-year engineering students of Kingston University have designed a bike that dispels all myths about green vehicles.This bike has the ability to reach speeds of 102mph, race around a 38 mile mountainous course and is powered by batteries that can be charged from a standard household socket! They will take this bike to the world’s first zero-emissions Grand Prix this summer. The Kingston team will be competing with 24 eco-bikes from America, India, Italy, Germany and Austria at the 2009 Isle of Man TTXGP. Mr. Paul Brandon who is the Course Director for motorsport and motorcycle engineering shared his views, “Being green doesn’t have to mean slow. There are too many skeptics when it comes to electric vehicles but we all need to reduce our CO2 output and this initiative is taking a huge leap in that direction. The ideas we and others put to the test on the racing circuit are the ones most likely to become commonplace on the road.”

Students were working on this project since October last year. This project is also a part of their final assessment. The bike is run from a custom-built, 72-volt battery. According to Mr. Brandon, “The energy density of batteries is far less than that of petrol or diesel so how we manage the energy we carry is critical to our success in the race. The bike we have designed has a whole vehicle efficiency of 90 per cent, so we are only wasting 10 per cent of what we carry. By comparison a petrol-based vehicle wastes 70 per cent of the energy it carries.”

Alex Jones-Dellaportas, one of the team members claimed they have designed the bike through different stages. They focused on making the bike faster and lighter. Most of the materials they used for the bike were recycled. Another student elaborated further that appearance wise the bike looks like any other bike but there is a huge difference. This motorbike has no internal combustion engine, no exhaust system and no fuel tank. It goes without saying that the overall CO2 usage, including the carbon dioxide generated to charge the batteries, will be around 50 per cent less carbon dioxide than a petrol or diesel-power bike. Gonzalo Carrasco, another student of the team says, “People need to realize that this technology is the future. By entering green races and building green designs we are hoping policy-makers will see the potential for this technology and start investing in it.”

Azhar Hussain who is the founder of TTXGP motorcycle race, is quite enthusiastic about the team’s motorbike. He too wants to watch the motorbike in action when it would be racing against formidable competition from around the globe on one of the most challenging road race courses in the world. Azhar Hussain thinks that Kingston University team has done a great job and if everything goes right then the exposure for Kingston will be priceless

Selgas Cano Architecture Office Designer-Madrid, Spain

House of Vision by FORM/Kouichi Kimura Architects

House of Vision is a private home in Shiga, Japan by FORM/Kouichi Kimura Architects that is designed to shield the client from neighbours.
Completed last year, the house features largely blank exterior elevations but has large windows looking onto an enclosed central courtyard.
Photographs are by Takumi Ota.
Here’s some info from the architects:
House of vision
The lot is located at the foot of a hill where the fields and houses are mixed together.
The client’s desire was “to live while feeling nature without being bothered by looks from the neighbors”. To make the best use of the lot, the planning was designed to enclose the lot with the trench extended beyond the building, and to provide an interior courtyard as the center.
The enclosed space clips images from the surrounding landscapes, creating a comfortable outdoor living room that is not exposed to the outside world.
The position of each opening is carefully designed in consideration of “what to take in and what to conceal”.
Specifically the position and form of the opening of the living/dining room with kitchen on the second floor is most effective in concert with the interior.
In this house, the most important theme is “how to close/open” in the open environment.
Architects: FORM/Kouichi Kimura Architects
Location: Shiga, Japan
Client: Private
Construction Year: 2008
Site Area: 327,97m2
Constructed Area: 181,74m2
Photographs: Takumi Ota