|Only 5% of Colombo buildings designed by qualified architects
The Sri Lanka Institute of Architects (SLIA) will hold its 45th Annual Sessions from February 21-24 at the BMICH, under the theme "Urban Renaissance through City Architecture". At a press conference held to announce the event and elaborate on the objectives, Dhananjana Senanayake, Vice President of SLIA, said that this theme was decided on in view of the fact that there is an urgent need for a regeneration of a large number of cities in Sri Lanka.
It is an obvious fact that most urban spaces in Sri Lanka have fallen prey to the ills of urban deterioration over time from chaotic design and planning and inadequate resources. SLIA is of the view that professionalism has not been adequately deployed in matters of national importance, in particular in development processes. It was pointed out that only 5% of all buildings within the municipal limits of Colombo had been designed by qualified architects. Unfortunately, the blame is placed on the entire architectural community. Furthermore, SLIA complained that urban development is sorely lacking an integrated approach to the problem.
Senanayake as well as other SLIA spokespersons argued that city planning and urban regeneration should not focus only on the needs of investors, but needs to take into account the needs of citizens, especially for safe and "livable" spaces. SLIA believes that where urban regeneration programmes have been successful , attention has been paid to local conditions, culture, climate and peoples own perceptions and desires. The lack of public awareness on the significance of architecture and architects is a contributive factor, according to SLIA. The sessions, SLIA hopes, would be a step in the right direction in rectifying this problem.
Senanayake stressed that city planning is more than a matter of designing single buildings, pointing out that each building designed needs to take into account the impact of the structure on the immediate environment. This means that the planners should take steps to anticipate possible repercussions and address these, Senanayake said.
Dr. Janaka Wijesundera, who gave a slide presentation of current trends in urban renewal, using examples from Europe, maintained that Sri Lankan architects have the knowledge and the skills to improve the urban landscape along the lines suggested above. The SLIA lamented the manifest absence of the necessary political will.
The Annual Sessions this year aims at initiating a dialogue among all organizations concerned with urban planning on these issues. In order to infuse life and spatial delight to these areas, government agencies, NGOs, peoples organizations and built environment specialists need to work together, it was pointed out. To this end the Sessions will have a Public Affairs Forum in addition to the usual exhibition of the works of architects.
The Public Affairs Forum will feature talks related to urban renaissance by foreign and local experts on associated topics. The sessions will be open to the general public free of charge and all interested professionals are invited to participate in the forum.(M)
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