The neglect and deterioration caused to the once buzzing commercial property of shophouses – The De Soysa Building is a result of deliberate actions. As the building succumbs to it’s unfortunate fate, the UDA remains responsible for the unethical gentrification of this area. When historical values of buildings are not identified and voices of those who care are silenced, a city begins to slowly lose its identity.
“It’s a tragic loss for the country” says Ranil De Soysa, whose great grandfather, a wealthy Ceylonese by the name Charles Henry De Soysa who built it with his own money. He continues to say that he lost the building, whilst many more lost their properties with no compensation nor pay-out damages when he spoke with Roar Media.
As this is the sixth building with a rich history of 150 years to be brought down, the governments proposed ‘heritage city’ development vision become more and more ironical. However, if the investors of this Slave Island Redevelopment Project chooses to value these buildings and decides to retrofit them, the De Soysa building will see new light.
We can only hope that the rest of the heritage listed buildings will be identified and restored to its former glory rather than being crumbled to the ground to make way for new developments with no sentimental value. It is important to note that it is a city’s architecture that visually tells a story of the city at a glance.
By Thameesha Eliyapura
Photo credit: @wearefromhereproject, Firi Rahman, Roar Media and Nazly Ahmed