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Sustaining Urbanscapes: Revisioning life for disadvantaged communities living on urban edges

Part 2 Project 2011
Dulmini Perera
University of Moratuwa Moratuwa Sri Lanka
The kelani river edge which is a prominent edge in the city of Colombo has a high concentration of underserved settlements (“wattas”). The industrial and commercial activities happening in the greater area and its close proximity to the Colombo harbor has had a negative influence in the growth of the area gradually transforming the edges ,in to a ground for waste disposal, industrial pollutants and underserved settlements consisting of both slums and shanties. These communities have created what others perceive as a parasitic informal city which has gradually started to characterize the area.
Thus the strategy is not to impose a solution but rather to reconfigure the main threads that sustain the existing system so that the strengths of the system are manipulated to push it in to a more positive direction.
This reconfiguration is done by introducing it in to a spine that acts as a life supportive system. The spine Becomes the key component of the system carrying the necessary Physical and social infrastructure for the Community. It configures itself both horizontally as well as vertically initiating a growth pattern for the activities. The housing units are to feed on the spine at different levels which forms different living and activity planes for the people. Thus the role of architecture is not merely creating physical space but rather creating spaces that enables, empowers the community to use their inherent strengths for their betterment.
The design consists mainly of a Spine which facilitates the four main processes of the existing system .Namely the water related, waste related, farm related and commercial processes. They are positioned in such a way creating different zones across the settlement. The pods together create a cycle that handles the energy waste and water within the system. The housing comes in the form of a grid that becomes a starting point for them to develop their own personalized version of a house under the restrictions provided by macro system.
Ultimately the design transforms a system that is now perceived as a parasite and burden to the state in to a self sustaining entity that can gradually pay back for itself.

Dulmini Perera


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