Sunday, July 26, 2009

Litterbugs infest the Galle face Green

The largest and probably the oldest public space in Colombo, the Galle face green has faced many enemies in the recent past and now is being challenged by the invasive litter bug.

Pinnawala Zoo

Image stolen from here

‘Join us and feel how well we live’ is the theme of the state-of- the-art new zoo which is being developed at Pinnawala, approx 60 km from Colombo . A new zoo has been a long felt need since the existing Zoo in the suburbs of Colombo has its limitations in expansion and upgrading. The new zoo is based on the conceptual theme that focuses towards developing truly an International Zoo reflecting the cultural heritage, highest conservation standards, educational and research demands, and socio-economic aspirations of the nation. The zoo follows the global trend in specialized zoos that rear animals in environments simulating their natural ecological habitats. Once completed , the new Zoo at Pinnawala will truly be not only a much loved destination among tourists, but also an educational and recreational centre for all visitors.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Museum for Sigiriya

Image stolen from here (more images are available here)

The Sigiriya Museum and Information Centre which will be opened on the 28th of July 2009, has been funded by Japan, through JICA, under its Project for the Development of Culture-oriented Tourism (COT) which hopes to promote nature-culture-traditional lives. The funds were channelled through the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and National Heritage and the project executed by the CCF.

The museum was a long felt need to attract the up-end tourist market, local as well as foreign, stressed CCF DG Prof. Seneviratne. “These tourists look beyond simplistic information or just visiting a site and moving on.”


Sigiriya Museum Web Site

Monday, July 20, 2009

How the Lankans Landed on the Moon

The moon landing is considered to be one of the most significant historic events witnessed by modern man. Even if it was a hoax as some skeptics argue, it would still remain significant since it undoubtedly would be one of the greatest hoaxes pulled off in history!

I thought of writing this small post to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the moon landing. The ground views web site had posted an article which presented an interesting insight on how Sri Lanka had reacted to this historical occasion.

The following images were taken from original newspapers, painstakingly scanned by yours truly, which sheds some kind of light on how the media back then captured this event in a Sri Lankan standpoint.

All images (which are readable) can be found in my photo stream

Dinamina, 16-07-1969

Dinamina, 18-07-1969

Even though for some mysterious reason the Sri Lankan Prime minister had refused to send a message of good will to be etched on the silicon disc, which was to be left on the moon, The Sri Lankan flag had made its way to the moon

Dinamina, 19-07-1969

Dinamina, 20-07-1969

Dinamina, 22-07-1969

Dinamina, 22-07-1969

One of the great sons of Sri Lanka, Professor Cyril Ponnamperuma lead a team in examining a potion of the moon debris collected by Neil Armstrong.

Dinamina, 26-07-1969

The head lines of Dinamina, published on the 26th of July 1969 reads "Mars Next -the project to start off in one year".

That was 40 years ealier.

Porn and Viagra on SLIA website

Just in case they delete the pages I have added images to my photo stream

Previously I have criticized the SLIA web site of not being able to contend with other websites by similar International organizations, but today I may have to take that back. I Just visited some of the links in the SLIA website to end up in some sort of forum, created by the website admins, which took me from tribal tattoo websites to viagra advertisements and to "free porn trailer movies".

The SLIA web site also has a killer discussion forum. check it out here (Read the Address bar which states "")

I agree that the SLIA web site needed a boost in terms of traffic, but this is ridiculous!

ps: Lets just hope that the admins wont remove these pages.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

So Long,Frank Lloyd Wright: One of those songs That Architects should give a listen to

So Long,Frank Lloyd Wright by Simon and Garfunkel

It is said that before starting off his singing carrier, Art Garfunkle, had studied Architecture. Their musical genius surpass the boundaries of time. "Even though Bridge over trouble water" and "sound of silence might" be more notable tunes, all their music captures a serene quality which often reminds me of Bawa's Architecture.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

shanghai-apartment: Analysis on toppling over

Some more details of the the shanghai-apartment which toppled over in June. Please refer previous post for images. in the following sketches an analysis is made as to how this accident occurred. One wonders whether if end bearing piles were use instead of precast friction ones could this accident have been avoided.

(1) An underground garage was being dug on the south side, to a depth of 4.6 meters
(2) The excavated dirt was being piled up on the north side, to a height of 10 meters
(3) The building experienced uneven lateral pressure from south and north
(4) This resulted in a lateral pressure of 3,000 tonnes, which was greater than why the pilings could tolerate. Thus the building toppled over in the southerly direction.

First, the apartment building was constructed

Then the plan called for an underground garage to be dug out.
The excavated soil was piled up on the other side of the building.

Heavy rains resulted in water seeping into the ground.

The building began to shift and the concrete pilings were snapped
due to the uneven lateral pressures.

The building began to tilt.

And thus came the eighth wonder of the world.

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Just fiddle around with the tool bar which you see at the bottom of the page, it has all sorts of buttons, click on the community button and sign up with your facebook profile.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Shigeru Ban Designed House in Mirissa, Sri Lanka

Shigeru Ban Designed House in Mirissa, Sri Lanka for For Mr. Priengiers jnr.
Local Consultants - PWA

Tadao Ando Designed House In Mirissa, Sri Lanka

Designed by world famous Architect Tadao Ando, the House in Mirissa for Mr. PRINGIERS snr.
Local Consultant - PWA
Unfortunately I don't have any images of the finish product taken from an interesting angle.

Confidence is returning to the profession, survey claims.

By Ruth Bloomfield

June results of the RIBA future trends survey suggests downturn is bottoming out

Optimism is slowly returning to the architectural profession, according to the most upbeat RIBA future trends survey since the start of the year.

Data for June shows that conditions are still tough, but improving slightly.

Practices predicting more work rose from 27% in May to 31% in June, while the number of staff that are currently underemployed fell from 27% in May to 23% in June.

The housing sector is looking particularly robust compared with previous months. The number of practices expecting their workloads to increase rose from 11% in May to 24% in June. Confidence within the commercial and public sectors remained fairly stable however.

Meanwhile eight per cent of practices expect staff levels to increase over the next three months, compared to just three per cent in May. The number of practices expecting staff cuts fell from 23% in May to 16% in June. Three quarters of all practices expect staff levels to remain constant over the next three months.

Adrian Dobson, director of practice at the RIBA said the results indicated the recession was bottoming out for the sector: “The June results mark the end of the first six months of the RIBA Future Trends Survey, and overall we have witnessed a slow but steady return to some confidence and optimism within the profession over the last quarter.”

The Hergé Museum

photo © Nicolas Borel. Atelier de Portzamparc 2009

The Hergé Museum by Atelier Christian de Portzamparc

Looks pretty and weird and all that's in between but my question is whether if it capture the true "Tin Tin" spirit? to me it only reflects a few adventures. May be the real thing must be better. What do you think?

Hergé Museum
26, rue du Labrador
1348 Louvain-la-Neuve

Georges Prosper Remi (22 May 1907 - 3 March 1983), better known by the pen name Hergé, was a Belgian comics writer and artist.His best known and most substantial work is The Adventures of Tintin, which he wrote and illustrated from 1929 until his death in 1983, which left the twenty-fourth Tintin adventure Tintin and Alph-Art unfinished. His work remains a strong influence on comics, particularly in Europe. He was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2003.

Hergé (Georges Prosper Remi) © Hergé-Moulinsart 2008

illustration from The Adventures of Tintin © Hergé-Moulinsart 2009

Over the years, Hergé’s artistic output has become established as a work of distinction. The idea of a museum has been germinating from as far back as 1979, while he was still alive. The goal was always to make Hergé’s myriad creations known to the wider public. To do justice to such an important project, a lot of time and careful reflection was necessary. The main task was to strike the right balance between the nuances of a complex reality and the legendary status that was starting to develop around the man and his creation.

In 1986, three years after the artist passed away, the idea took shape in the form of the Hergé Foundation. From the start of the new millennium, this organisation (now renamed Studios Hergé) has worked tirelessly to identify and catalogue the most suitable elements for exhibition in a museum consecrated to Hergé. On 10 January 2001, Tintin’s ‘birthday’, the important announcement was made: the Hergé Museum was to be built in Louvain-la-Neuve, a recently created university town, less than 30 kilometres from Brussels.

photo © Nicolas Borel. Atelier de Portzamparc 2009

photo © Nicolas Borel. Atelier de Portzamparc 2009

Eight years later and the dream is materialising. The Hergé Museum opens its doors at the start of June 2009, two years after the first stone was laid on 22 May 2007, the artist’s birthday. Expectations are as high as the project is ambitious. A well-known architect was chosen to bring the industrious plans to fruition: the Frenchman Christian de Portzamparc. In recognition of his achievements, in 1994 he was awarded the Pritzker Prize, the most prestigious accolade in international architecture.

photo © Nicolas Borel. Atelier de Portzamparc 2009

Christian de Portzamparc has used all his skills in building design to integrate the principals of Hergé’s work, superbly highlighting the unique features of the latter’s art, which led to his becoming the founder and master of the clear line technique.

Louvain-la-Neuve is built on a straight-edged concrete slab with a car park underneath. It immediately seemed like a good idea to disengage the museum from the town, better to move it away a little towards the woods. In this way, bathed in the light streaming through the large bays, the visitor is confronted with “four landscape objects”, which correspond to the general layout and Joost Swarte’s scenography.
Each of these objects has its own personality; each is a kind of character. Each has a specific sculptural form, colour and unique design. Each displays an aspect, disproportionately enlarged, derived from Hergé’s drawing style. One traces Tintin in America, another King Ottokar’s Sceptre… To these four “objects”, we can add a fifth: the lift shaft, vertical and coloured in white and blue, which I had first imagined as red and white, but which Fanny found too literal.
What is clear to me, now that the museum exists, is that there were infinite sources of inspiration for the project. There was the programme of exhibitions, of course, and the constant discussions with Fanny and Nick Rodwell, as well as the work of Hergé in all its dimensions of course: its identity, its individuality, its unique character.
I said to myself, from this point on, that the museum was obviously a tribute to Hergé, but also as much a game played with Hergé, or a letter to Hergé.

photo © Nicolas Borel. Atelier de Portzamparc 2009

photo © Nicolas Borel. Atelier de Portzamparc 2009

photo © Nicolas Borel. Atelier de Portzamparc 2009

photo © Nicolas Borel. Atelier de Portzamparc 2009


Beginning of building work : July 2007
Opening day : 2nd June 2009
Program: Cultural facilities accommodating a museum dedicated to Hergé, as well as permanent and temporary exhibitions areas, a video projection room, a cafeteria, shops, studios, storehouses and administrative premises.
Floor space : 3 600 m2
Proprietor: « La Croix de l’Aigle » S.A. : Fanny et Nick Rodwell, Studios Hergé..
Project manager : Robert Vangénéberg.
Project Management : Walter De Toffol – INCA ( Ingénieurs Conseils Associés)
Architect : Christian de Portzamparc
Atelier Christian de Portzamparc TEAM: Céline Barda, Bruno Durbecq, Odile Pornin, Yannick Bouchet, Konrad Kuznicki
Landscape designer: Jacques Wirtz
Scriptwriters : Joost Swarte, Thierry Groensteen and Philippe Goddin
Scenographers : Joost Swarte and Winston Spriet
Director : Laurent de Froberville

3D image © Atelier de Portzamparc 2009

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Lajja : Web sites that bring nothing but Shame

Providing stimulation and guidance to a profession should be a professional institutions main objective. However, apart from providing a list of rules and regulations to the membership, the SLIA doesn’t seem to budge. At least they should redesign their website in a proper user friendly manner, which would probably only cost them a small amount as compared to what they gain in membership fee as well as other modes.
A website should be an interface which the institute/organization interacts with the public. However if the SLIA website is anything to go by in terms of an interface, it would probably seem like the profession isn’t very interested in interaction. (Note how many “Log in” screens come up) There are so many things left to be criticized in the website, but i don't think I know enough about webdesigning to make any further comments. (check the website out yourself)
Contrastingly note how user friendly the RAIA website is. It has separate sections for different type of users. And it also has a spot to showcase the member’s works. The amount of information available in RIBA and AIA website are very well documented.
At least the SLIA should make an attempt to design a proper website so that the profession has proper interface to the community, since the profession is often being criticized on its attitude towards public.

The Architectural Conendrum : Amendments to the UDA act

In 2009 April the UDA (Urban Development Authority) act was amended so that the Architect gains full responsibility in designing buildings. This new amendment has been welcomed with a lot of criticism, especially by the draftsperson’s guild.
It is true that there maybe a handful of Architects in the country (around 500) since the process in creating an Architect is a strenuous and hard journey, but that does not mean that the amount of Architects in the country is insufficient to feed its needs.
The haphazard developments littering the urbanscape are the product of a society deprived of the services of such professionals, wherein that profession itself is nurtured and nourished by the society itself. The amendment should be seen as the securing of public rights, rather than a hindrance, as a minute few that claim it to be. After all an Architect is a trained professional who has to go through a 7 year arduous educational process where as draftspersons are seen as a facilitating entity to the profession who only are experienced in drafting and not design.
By the enactment of the amended act, not only will the built environment improve but more notably, the bogus professionals who waste public wealth and time will see an end to their charades.

Find an article (in sinhala) on this here ( Use either iExplorer, or install relevant font from Website)

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Image stolen from here

Monday, July 6, 2009

How to Make an Architect : The 7 year Curse

Like most Architects I too was a victim of the 7 year curse. That’s the 7 years spent in becoming an Architect. (CSA students are even more cursed…they get 7+) To become an architect one must first get the basic degree (B. Sc) which is a 3 year course and then work at an architectural practice for one year to be eligible to enter a 2 year masters course. Then again he/she/it has to spend another 1 year at an architectural practice in order to sit for the SLIA (Sri Lanka Institute of Architect) part III examination. (BSc and Msc exempts SLIA part I and part II)

The first year at University, was more or less a “wandering in the dark” episode for me. The lecturers seem to ooze of a self proclaimed aura of architectural knighthood, and they weren’t really amused with my attitude either. I was never a Marxist (a student who grovels for marks) hence I never did get that many marks.

It is common understanding that once you enter through to the halls of the faculty of architecture that an architecture student completely abdicates his right of sleeping at night. And after sometime when you see your family sleeping at night you begin to think that there’s something wrong with them.

Crits are another amusing little affair that you get exposed to at archi-school. After weeks of designing, endless nights of drawings up pretty looking pictures, and hundreds of cutter knife cuts on your hands, some guy comes and blasts you to Timbuktu. Ah! The joy!....

Sleepless nights inevitably translate as sleeping through lectures, and I really can’t recall a single lecturer that hasn’t made me sleep. I vividly remember how the urban planning lecturer tossed me out of class in lieu of my habits.

If the students survive these three years they then face the ultimate challenge. The CDP (comprehensive design project) a design which in theory should be buildable. (But in reality you only need a bunch of nice fancy pictures, some fancy lingo, and a nice smile.) I recall my CDP with utter hatred. It deprived me of the joys of dining in the numerous “dansals” since CDP is held mostly in the month of May. Answering the primordial call for our colonial affinity to white skin, a sudhdha fellow from the RIBA, (Royal Institute of British Architects) is flown down for this special occasion. Some pass, some fail, some stay indifferent. It’s said that once a student even resorted to commit suicide after failing and another interesting student resorted to chase a lecturer with a knife. Interesting!

The year off at an office is quite a change. You get the opportunity to sharpen you CAD monkey skills and you also get the chance to becoming an architect cum receptionist cum peon cum tea maker. Most of all you get the chance to actually get to see how real architects work. (Then worship the ground they tread upon)

One year there and then back to campus for the two years of M.Sc. These two years seem to drift away faster than the previous three. Lecturers seem to take a different stand on how to treat the students (apparently they think the students have matured by now, goes to show how little they actually know) then arrives again the dreaded CDP. The sudda fellow is dragged back again to the island of small miracles.

Thrown out again to the field, the student labors one year at an architectural practice, this time with a bit more respect added, and then the SLIA part III.

Some are fortunate enough to get through this ordeal in one shot. But this is seldom not the case. There are reported instances of students actually trying to claim the prescripted right to the buildings themselves.

In the end of the whole process, if every thing goes as it should, you end up with a fine architect.

Well maybe not a “fine” one, but at least you get a Chartered Architect.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Fun toys for Archi boyz! (and also girls:) )

City Engine

City Engine

ILoveSketch from Seok-Hyung Bae on Vimeo.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Shanghai Apartment Topples Over

In the weekend’s bizarrest news, a nearly finished, newly constructed building in Shanghai toppled over, killing one worker. As can be seen in the photo below, the 13-story apartment building collapsed with just enough room to escape what would have been a far more destructive domino effect involving other structures in the 11-building complex.

The development, known as “Lotus Riverside,” has a total of 629 units, 489 of which have already been sold. Now buyers are clamoring to get their money back, and authorities are making efforts to reassure them. The assets of the project’s developer, Shanghai Meidu Property Development Co., have been frozen and the city officials said the developer’s ability to repay homebuyers was secure, according to a statement on the municipal government’s Web site (in Chinese). A hotline has been set up for Lotus Riverside buyers, and by Sunday afternoon, more than half of them had met with a group of lawyers and officials organized to help them negotiate with the developer, according to the statement.

Meanwhile, the cause of the accident is under investigation and nine unidentified people from the developer, contractor and management company have been detained.

A representative of Shanghai Meidu could not be reached for comment.

The disaster could reveal some uncomfortable facts about lax construction practices in China, where buildings are put up in a hurry by largely unskilled migrant workers, and developers may be tempted to take shortcuts.

According to Shanghai Daily, initial investigations attribute the accident to the excavations for the construction of a garage under the collapsed building. Large quantities of earth were removed and dumped in a landfill next to a nearby creek; the weight of the earth caused the river bank to collapse, which, in turn, allowed water to seep into the ground, creating a muddy foundation for the building that toppled.

The South China Morning Post noted that the pilings used in the Lotus Riverside development, made of prestressed, precast concrete piles, are outlawed in Hong Kong because they aren’t strong enough to support the kind of ultra-high buildings that are common in Hong Kong. But in mainland China, they are often used because buildings there are typically much shorter.

Quality problems have long plagued construction in China, though they seem to be more apparent in rural areas and smaller cities, not in major metropolises such as Shanghai and Beijing. When school buildings were flattened by last year’s massive Sichuan earthquake, a number of parents faulted shoddy construction for creating “tofu buildings” that fell while other nearby structures were able to withstand the impact of the quake. More recently, state media reported that several new dams along the Yellow River are in danger of collapse, a situation attributed to shoddy construction practices, embezzlement and unqualified workers.