- Name: Dileepa S Wijerathna
- Year: 2019
- Studio: Level V
- University: University of Moratuwa
“Beyond the commercial maze: Carving out a cultural realm”
Pettah’s distinctive urban blocks are defined by congested and chaotic commercial streets at the periphery of the blocks and cramped up, under-utilized spatial voids within the blocks.
This project ‘carve-out’ a new organic spatial system within the block and strengthen the socio-cultural life and introduce alternative economic generator.
Issue: Impacts and vulnerabilities of present & proposed developments to the existing cultural realm which needs to sustain the city identity.
Most of recent development plans executed in Sri Lankan urban areas especially in Colombo have caused gentrification. As a result of that the public services, commercial areas and the other areas used by general public are isolated & neglected in planning and urban designing. The gentrified value added areas cater to a specific crowd other than catering to the general public. Therefore, the isolated underdeveloped urban areas are detreating and developing as informal developments.
The design position of the project is, developments needs to be executed acknowledging the existing physical context (built & unbuilt) and socio-cultural characteristics while making the context humanized.
The idea of ‘place for people’ would be a value addition to the city identity.
Macro Context: When considering the physical macro context, the transportation, commercial, administration, residential and recreational magnet areas have significantly affected in shaping the city character, morphology and the life of people.
Micro Context: Pettah commercial district and adjacent area can be identified as micro context for the project. Main attached contextual parties are the port, fruits & vegetable retail market, Gunasinghapura flats (housing), bus terminals (Gunasinghepura bus stand & CTB bus stand), Manning Market (wholesale and retail), railway station and public car parks.
The current street edge is well defined with commercial activities and it is not economically feasible to alter. Even though it creates a chaotic expression and contribute to create unsecured pedestrian spaces, it defines the unique character of Pettah which generates the attraction of tourists and local consumers.
Therefore, the typological masterplan propose utilization of alleyway network which is currently used by the people who are familiar with the context in a proper way and create an Urban Inner-Block utilizing the rear spaces and dead spaces of back side of the buildings.
This newly introduced urban inner-block will create a better public space within a city block and the above mentioned problems can be addressed in a better way. Depending on the space availability and adoptability, it can be replicated in other city blocks which is in grid pattern and create links with hotspots.
Design strategies detailed out in building project as a ‘carving out’ of a cultural realm
According to the analysis and master plan proposals, selected city block will be developed as the project which is proposed in phase I of the master plan.
Therefore, the comprehensive design project is focused on providing tourism infrastructure and recreational based interventions to introduce new cultural layer to the city in a form of an urban infill. Thus, the project “Beyond the commercial maze: Carving out a cultural realm” can be identified as an attempt to create more humanized and sustainable urban public spaces in Pettah commercial district.
Project: Revitalizing the Dutch Museum city block introducing backpackers accommodation and museum extension with commercial & public facilities.
Location: Between the Prince Street & Keyzer Street and between the 1st & 2nd cross streets
User: Backpackers & tourists, Sellers & consumers, General public
Client: Urban Development Authority
Text description provided by the project author.