Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dan Phillips's Budweiser House!

Dan phillips appears to be a very interesting character having a very multifaceted and colorful life which he has spent as an intelligence officer in the Army, a college dance instructor, an antiques dealer and a syndicated cryptogram puzzle maker. Since about a decade ago he has started to design houses from trash!

Take a listen to this very interesting TED talk, where he talks on a number of issues including how standardization has effected the construction industry (even though I don't agree with him), and monotonous character of housing complexes. And also most interestingly, the Budweiser house! very very cool indeed!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Fire, fire burning bright...!

This is an image taken from the dinamina online edition, which shows the incinerated kiribathgoda seylan bank building. Apparently the same building had caught on fire three months earlier as well.

There is a ICTAD published manual on fire safety regulation for buildings in Sri Lanka, but no one seems to be adhering to any regulations these days. Pay the TO at the MC 500 bucks and you can build anything you want. Better yet, pay the bugger Rs 15,000 and you can get the approved council drawings for a 5 storied building (real story)

Bottom line is that there should be a more methodical way of getting council drawings approved. The existing system has become a joke, and everyone knows it, but no one wants to do anything because this is much more convenient. The professional bodies such as the IESL and SLIA should do something about this before its too late. well its already too late, but as they say, its better late than never.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Kandy: a sketch book

Image stolen from here
(All rights belong to Vasanth Perera)

I am no artist nor an art critic, but I'm confident that I can spot beauty when I see it. And that's why I love Vasantha perera's art. As an Architect I love how those silent buildings are brought to life in his canvas. He has recently published a book titled, "Kandy: a sketch book" which is kind of the part two of his trilogy of sketch books. The predecessor to the recent book was titled as "Jaffna: a sketch book". He also recently held an exhibition of his works to mark the launch of the book.

I will be wating till he publishes his third sketch book, which is supposed to be themed on Colombo.

You can visit Vasantha's web site for more information

Thursday, November 25, 2010

SLIA Drama: season 01- web mania

The most recent email from the SLIA reads as...


All Corporate members are permitted to maintain their own Practice Websites as per 6.4.4 of the SLIA regulations.

The Council has approved the inclusion of 20 (Twenty) images (Maximum) of completed Projects on such a Website.

I had to learn about those fantastic "SLIA regulations" sometime back (I have long forgotten what they are...) But just to recap, I visited the this link which leads to the EXTRA ORDINARY GAZETTE of 1416/10 where I believe you should find the regulations. But the pdf available there only has 5 pages. ( it was a little bit odd, that the heading for the home page of the government press website read "Entertainment" : I guess some might consider reading gazettes entertainment)

Anyway back to the SLIA email. I'm a bit unclear about this, so according to this "new" rule I'm making several assumptions...

1.) You can only have 20 images of buildings completed in your web page?
2.) You can have 20 images per building project that you have completed?
3.) You can have any amount of 3d renderings (since they cannot be considered images of buildings rather representations of the images of buildings)
4.) You can have any amount of images of buildings that are not yet completed ( So construction progress, or even buildings with say one coat of paint, since they cannot be deemed completed, the word completed is such a subjective word!)

According to assumption 01 some web sites such as the following should be taken down

Mihindu Keerthirathna Associates
Milroy Perera Associates
Palinda Kannangara
Sunil Gunawardena

Team Architrave

These are just a few... If my assumption 2 is correct then I guess most of the websites are pretty safe.

Needless to say I fail to understand the logic behind this most recent turn of events, my conclusion is that the SLIA got tired of just sending obituary notices by mail and just to stir up the interest of the membership, they resorted to this. Whatever it is, I think we should re consider the pro's and cons of the SLIA membership. What do we really get back from the SLIA as Architects or better yet as a Country?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Buddha Park

I accidentally came across these interesting images while randomly surfing the web on a Sunday afternoon. Buddha park is located in Laos, and is called Xieng Khuan, which means Spirit City. Even though it looks weathered, apparently it was built in 1958. (more info from wiki)

(image stolen from here)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

One finger salute to peliyagoda! : The Terrible TRC Tower

Sunday, November 14, 2010

So you want to be an Architect? Really? you gotta be fucking kidding me!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mihindu Keerthirathna to design the new airport hotel!

Suchirindia Lankan Hotels and Resorts (P) Limited and Starwood, a leading international hotel and leisure company, singed a letter of intent to establish a 200 keys airport hotel in the Katunayake Export Processing Zone.

Suchirindia is a diversified business group based in India with Infrastructure and hospitality development at its core. Hospitality as a business venture to Suchirindia has profound significance as the company believes this is one line of business that integrates nature, creativity, art and architecture, statement said.

With two hotels under operation back in India, Suchirindia is poised to make a humble beginning in Sri Lanka with a 200 keys hotel at Bandaranaike International Airport in the Katunayake Export Processing Zone in a 3.5 acres land awarded by the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka.

Starwood is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with over 1000 hotels in nearly 100 countries and territories. The letter of intent was signed in the presence of the Indian High Commissioner in Colombo, Ashok K. Kantha yesterday.

Dr. Y. Kiran Kumar, Chairman of Suchirindia Group and Mathew Fry, Senior Vice President of Acquisitions and Development in Starwood Asia Pacific, exchanged the signed letters of intent and together they will bring the pacesetting innovation, lifestyle-focused design, signature services and strong traveler loyalty through this project. Mihindu Keerthiratne Associates would be the Hotel Architects.

Monday, November 1, 2010

New customs building

This is the new house of the Sri Lanka Customs. This is a key State organisation at the frontier, which enforces social protection laws of the country while facilitating the trade transactions, contributing to the national development drive. Yet the Sri Lanka Customs worked scattered in different buildings even at the time of their bicentenary celebrations. At a cost of Rs. 4.5 billion the new Customs building is being built near the Charmer’s jetty in Colombo Fort with one side bordered by the Beira Lake.


Landmark? or Loony mark?: TRC Tower

A landmark tower from where people could have an overview of Colombo city has been proposed by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRC).

TRC director Anusha Palpita told the Sunday Times that many countries have landmark towers and in keeping with this trend they too have proposed one at Peliyagoda.

He said the tower would also be used as a communication tower by television stations. “Visitors who come to Colombo do not have many places to visit other than the Galle Face Green and the Zoological gardens. Now that the war has ended people are looking for more recreational facilities.

This will serve that purpose,” he said. A revolving restaurant would add to its attraction, Mr. Palpita said.

"OnThree20” luxury residential apartment complex-Union Place

The proposed “OnThree20” luxury residential apartment complex

On Three 20 is the most exciting new condominium project in Sri Lanka. Located in the heart of the city of Colombo this mammoth complex would consist of 475 units on 3 37-storey towers. The residential complex has been designed with special emphasis on the common areas which boasts of swimming pools, squash court and large gymnasium spread over half an acre of landscape garden at the podium level on the sixth floor. For more information please refer our website or contact our sales team.


Premier blue chip John Keells Holdings (JKH) further signalled it is also upbeat on post-war Sri Lanka’s property sector by kicking off its biggest venture in the segment – building a 475 luxury apartment units complex in Union Place with an investment of US$ 65 million.

The Board of Investment (BOI) agreement to this effect was concluded yesterday with Chairman J.D. Bandaranayake and JKH Chairman Susantha Ratnayake along with Deputy Chairman Ajit Gunewardene functioning as signatories.

Ratnayake told the Daily FT yesterday that the business climate and timing was right to embark on what is billed as JKH’s biggest venture in the residential apartments sector. He also said that the move follows success achieved in two of its previous initiatives “The Monarch” (with an estimated investment of $ 30 million) and The Emperor ($ 40 million). “Even prior to the official launch of the sale, the response from the market has been tremendous with interest expressed for over 50% of the units,” Ratnayake said.
He added that buyers stand to gain from the stylish design and luxury features of the apartments, attractive pricing, unique proposition in terms of financing options.
Official selling is expected to start next week whilst the construction is scheduled to commence in April 2011 with completion planned by the end 2014.
The project named “OnThree20” (on account of its premises number down Union Place – the area currently housing Singer Sri Lanka and some of JKH Group offices) will be encompassing two acres or 320 perches.
The apartments inclusive of usual luxury amenities will be priced ranging from Rs. 14 million for a two-bedroom unit at the lower levels to Rs. 37 million for a three-bedroom apartment at the highest level. The floor area ranges from around 900 square feet to 1,350 square feet with options for amalgamation. The location, in the heart of the city of Colombo affords convenient access to the Central Business District, all leading schools, hotels, shopping areas etc. The complex has been designed to meet the life style needs of today’s discerning customer.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The forgotten CESMA

I was reading this article on the leader about a 2020 urban plan for Colombo. What ever happened to the 2030 Cesma proposal made somewhere around 2003-2004? I couldn't even find any references on Google! Why does Sri Lanka need to spend so much money on urban plans when we don't really do anything about them? The so called 2020 plan is nothing but a bunch of words.

Some slides of the forgotten and unrealistic yet very very pretty Cesma plan.

Enabling Sri Lanka : Designing for the Disabled

image stolen from here

I was reading this post on the government news portal which goes on to talk about modifications being made to railway stations in the north to accommodate disable persons. I think this is a very good move by the government.

edit- Estimated at 900,000 to 1.4 million or 5% to 8% of the total population is considered to be disabled (Source: Sri Lanka Country Study prepared by the Foundation for
International Training).
The national census carried out by the Department of Census and Statistics in Sri Lanka in year 2001 counted persons with disability under a separate schedule and reported a total of 274,711 but excluded parts of the Northern and Eastern provinces.
Data collected by the Ministry of Social Welfare in 25 districts identified 78,802 persons with disabilities.
Sri Lanka Armed Forces official statistics indicate 4500 disabled soldiers, whereas unofficial data refer to more than 10,000 soldiers.

more info and credits

We use to have physically handicapped people, then we had disabled persons, and physically challenged people. Now we talk about differently able people. What ever the name we use they are a part and parcel of society.

To my knowledge Sri Lanka does have some rules to accommodate disable friendly environments, especially for public buildings. The word public it self should emphasize the importance of that space being able to serve everyone. But how many public buildings actually accommodate these regulations? Does throwing in a disable toilet count as being disable friendly? or perhaps a wheel chair unfriendly yet disable friendly ramp? ( talking about ramps, even though not a disable ramp, the ramp to the car park at the Dehiwala, Glitz is ridiculous!) There was a interesting building in punchi borella, called lady J. If I remember correctly it was a four storied building with ramps going all the way to the top. I dont want to even talk about the disable toilets ( shouldn't it be toilets for the disabled?)in Sri Lanka. Going to a disable toilet is like a Lord of the rings episode. First you need to find the toilet, figure out the mechanism to open the door, then find out where the key bearer is, if its lunch time, then you'd have a better chance with empty bottle.

Accessibility is the key word that we need to concentrate on. Accessibility to places, and facilities, accessibility to comfort and peace of mind. Accessibility is not just a physical issue, more importantly its a social issue. Its a matter of how society looks at disable people. A good design should be a good design for everyone.

Not every situation requires major construction to correct. I just want to talk about a few changes that we can do to make buildings in Sri Lanka more accessible without even trying hard.

The side walks in Sri Lanka are death traps to even able bodied people. It wouldn't take much effort to make the surface more flat. Ive seen newly layed pavements in Sri Lanka which are so uneven it makes you wonder how they managed to make it that way. Sri Lanka is still to introduce side walk ramps which allow wheel chair users to mount off the side walks or tactile paving for blind people.

Tactile paving (image stolen from here)

what about glass door ways? thick glass doors might look nice but are too heavy for a person on a wheel chair. the alternative is the automatic sliding door which you can see in supermarkets such as arpico. These require constant maintenance and after awhile they become inefficient. And as seen in this video automatic glass doors can be evil!

I dont think that there should be seperate disable access and able access for a building. The main entrance is for all people and there might be a loss of dignity if the disable person cant use the same. Emergency doors in Sri Lanka do not cater to the disabled at all. Atleast they should provide kick plates which signifies that the disabled person can exit the building un assisted. Having rope handles on doors might also be a cost effective way of providing access to disable persons.

Once inside the building, what about the floor finish? again at the No-limit glitz, I nearly broke my neck on the slippery tiles (in their defense I was wearing shoes without any traction) We need to really make the right choice with the floor finish. It should be efficient and should require low maintenance. Using carpets or rugs, areas can be defined, but some carpets are not really wheel chair friendly. What about the lift (elevator) control buttons? their usually above the level reachable by a person in a wheel chair. I just remembered a logic puzzle which is kind of related...

"A man lives on the tenth floor of a building. Every morning he takes the elevator down to the lobby and leaves the building. In the evening, he gets into the elevator, and, if there is someone else in the elevator – or if it was raining that day – he goes back to his floor directly. Otherwise, he goes to the seventh floor and walks up three flights of stairs to his apartment."

The man happens to be a midget. When it rains he has the umbrella to push the 10th floor button.

Placing a stick near the elevator so that a person in a wheel chair is able to reach out to the buttons, might sound a bit stupid but if it solves the problem, then I say go for it. At least for elevators which have been already constructed.

Anyway, When navigating within a building, the pathways should facilitate the blind, the deaf as well as the wheel chair user. Simple sound emitting elements such as wind chimes might symbolise a door way, even braille notice boards on the walls might make it easier for the blind.

What about payphone booths, even though no one seems to be using them anymore, even these booths are located so that people in wheel chairs can not access them. It doesnt cost much to install railing for people who cant walk properly. I know a lot of people above 55 suffering from artheritis, and its a nightmare for them to walk. Handrails make things a tad easier for them. I dont remember which No-limit store it was, but in one of them they have put boxing gloves at the ends of the railing so that people dont get injured by the sharp edges! tsk..tsk..tsk! (I am not an employee of No-limit, and I hope they don't sue my ass off)

Public seating in Sri Lanka doesn't accomodate wheel chairs at all. Even in hospitals I havent seen spaces allocated for wheel chairs. What about film halls? Either there should be movable chairs or allocated spaces. Any ideas on the new golden key eye and ENT hospital at rajagiriya?

In most of our museums there is a board saying "DO NOT TOUCH EXHIBITS". Fair enough, when you touch the exhibits they decay with time. But shouldn't a blind person experience these exhibitions/museums? Cant we have replicas of those same exhibits so that people can touch them and experience these wonders? Talking about museums, the Pollonnaruwa museum is a funny place. There is a toilet at the same level of the museum which only tourists can go to. If your a local you need to go down a flight of steps to relieve your self. If your unable to go down, then....well I guess its the trusty bottle again. Its self inflicted racial discrimination!

Rearranging furniture so it doesn't clutter the space might make it more friendlier for people with visual impairments.

Most countries have stringent policies on disble friendlier spaces. for example USA has the ADA regulations which lays out some pretty solid rules. Sri Lanka should also adopt similar strategies. and the SLIA should take the lead in promoting such regulations. The problem in Sri Lanka is, what ever the rules maybe once you bribe the local authority anything gets built (Just look at the crap that clutter the street scape in Sri Lanka!). Sri Lanka should also concentrate on the fire safety regulations, which at the moment are crap as well.

The able bodied persons should put themselves in the wheel chair and think. What if this was me? As I said in the beginning its much a physical problem as it is a social one.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Visions gone wild : Kalpitiya Development

Image stolen from here

The Sri Lanka Tourism launched the (over ambitious)Kalpitiya Dutch Bay Resort Development Project, complete with a Domestic Air Port at Uchchamunai, Under Water Amusement Park at Kandakkuliya, Golf Course at Dutch Bay, Race Course at Kalpitiya,and a Cricket Playground at Kalpitiya. The conceptual master plan has been developed by EML consultants who were the same company which was responsible for the Pinnawala Zoo project (and we all know how that turned out)

More details and a pdf file of the master plan can be downloaded through this web site

Refer here for news on developments taking place at kalpitiya

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Archt Palinda Kannangara : Hettiarachchi Residence

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hambanthota Airport

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Geoffrey Bawa Awards for Architecture 2010 /2011 Launched in Colombo

Convened by the Geoffrey Bawa Trust, a media briefing was held in Colombo to launch Geoffrey Bawa Awards for Architecture 2010/2011 on July 23, 2010 at the late Architect’s residence, who would have celebrated his 91st birthday on the same day.
Architect Channa Daswatte and Ms. Sunethra Bandaranaike addressed the media on the background of the Awards and submission details, as well as what the Awards mean not only to Architects, but also to the society of Sri Lanka.
Applications are called from contenders to the Award on the prescribed forms available at the offices of the Geoffrey Bawa Trust and will be available from the July 23, 2010 from 2.00 p.m. to 5.00 p.m. and on week days thereon from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. Documents should be submitted by November 15, 2010. Once again the award will be a sum of one million rupees and the winner chosen from the shortlist of 10 announced in May 2011. The winner will be announced at a gala event held on July 23, 2011 – Geoffrey Bawa’s 92nd birth anniversary, where the renowned author Michael Ondaatje has agreed to make the keynote address.

The judges will be Suhanya Raffel (Trustee of the Geoffrey Bawa Trust and Deputy Director Curatorial and Collection development at the Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane Australia), Archt. Kerry Hill, Singapore, Archt. Jayantha Perera (Immediate Past President and nominee of the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects) and Mr. Ajita de Costa (Textile technologist, industrialist and heritage conservationist).

The Geoffrey Bawa Trust will embark on a national Awards scheme for the second time to recognize and reward outstanding architectural work for architecture in Sri Lanka. The main objective of the Awards is to provide national recognition to the professionals and their contribution to the community and the Country. By honouring them, the Trust will help them advance in their careers and personal networks and provide significant profiling and visibility so as to create additional opportunities and exposure to them through their association “With the world renowned name Geoffrey Bawa”.

The Award, is open to all Sri Lankans and seeks out the broadest possible range of architectural interventions. The Award specifically hopes to encourage and learn more about the works of younger architects while being a forum for emerging talent. There are no fixed criteria as to the size, type, nature or location of project. The awards embraces all kinds of building projects ranging from modest small scale interventions to major complexes in housing and urban complexes that keeps a focus on the community and its neighborhoods. The Geoffrey Bawa Awards scheme has been consciously modeled on the scheme, which is run by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in Geneva. That is generally acknowledged to have had a very marked effect on architecture in developing countries since it was inaugurated by His Highness The Aga Khan in 1977 and has now completed eleven of its three- year cycles. The Trust also acknowledges the importance of the honour, that was bestowed upon Deshamanya Bawa when he received The Aga Khan’s Special Award for a Lifetime’s Achievement in Architecture in 2001.

Geoffrey Bawa is now recognized as having been one of the greatest Asian architects of the second half of the Twentieth Century and one of the most significant Sri Lankans of his generation. With his small group of talented assistants and his circle of creative friends and collaborators, he established a whole canon of prototypes for new buildings in newly independent Sri Lanka.

During a career that spanned forty years Bawa designed about thirty hotels, of which fourteen were realized, twelve of them in Sri Lanka. The Bentota Beach and Serendib hotels were the first purpose-built hotels to be built in the island and they set the standards for the rest to follow. Both contributed immeasurable to the image of Sri Lanka that was projected to the rest of the world. Many Guide Books to the island now include his buildings as “must see” places and rate his hotels as the best on the island.

For more information on the Geoffrey Bawa Awards for Architecture 2010/2011 cycle, and/or to become a sponsor, contact Nuzreth Jalaldeen on (011) 2375666 or(011)2375666 ext: 139 or nuzreth.jalaldeen@lk.arcww.com.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Shigeru Ban Designed House in Mirissa, Sri Lanka

Shigeru Ban Designed House in Mirissa, Sri Lanka for For Mr. Priengiers jnr.
Take a look at some photos of the model in a previous post.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Old News - Dont read if you've moved out of the 2009 mind frame

The British High Commission building, designed by Richard Murphy Associates, UK (Local Architects- Milroy Perera Associates) was shortlisted for the Lubetkin prize 2009, however the birds nest stadium won the award.

Information on the British High Commission building and video in support of their nomination for the Lubetkin prize 2009 can be found here

Lubetkin Prize – shortlist of six, alphabetical:

Bird's Nest/ National Stadium // Beijing // China // Herzog & De Meuron with Arup // 7

Bird’s Nest/ National Stadium // Beijing // China // Herzog & De Meuron with Arup

British High Commission // Colombo // Sri Lanka // Richard Murphy Architects

British High Commission // Colombo // Sri Lanka // Richard Murphy Architects

Capital Airport // Beijing // China // Foster + Partners

Capital Airport // Beijing // China // Foster + Partners

Museum for the Brandhorst Collection // Munich // Germany // Sauerbruch Hutton

Museum for the Brandhorst Collection // Munich // Germany // Sauerbruch Hutton

Sean O'Casey Community Centre // East Wall // Dublin // Ireland // O'Donnell and Tuomey

Sean O’Casey Community Centre // East Wall // Dublin // Ireland // O’Donnell and Tuomey

Water Cube/ National Swimming Centre // Beijing // China // PTW with Arup

Water Cube/ National Swimming Centre // Beijing // China // PTW with Arup