Holistic Learning and Empowerment Facilities in post-war northern Sri Lanka

Northern Sri Lankan Building, Foundation of Goodness Project, Article 25 Sri Lanka, NGO Design

Sri Lankan Building : Mankulam Facilities

Architecture in Mankulam, Foundation of Goodness NGO – by Article 25

19 Jul 2011

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Sri Lankan Building

Holistic Learning and Empowerment Facilities in post-war northern Sri Lanka

Article by Kim Wright from the Foundation of Goodness in collaboration with Article 25

The Sri Lankan civil war between the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) and the Sri Lankan Government was one of the most drawn out and tragic conflicts of modern times. Almost 30 years of fighting, much of which was fought in the North of the country, has resulted in over 100,000 deaths with thousands more displaced. Since peace was declared in May 2009 much of the North has remained closed as de-mining action occurs; however, new reductions in security have resulted in many new development opportunities becoming available for northern Sri Lanka.

Over the past six months, Article 25 has been working with the Sri Lankan NGO, the Foundation of Goodness, to develop and design a Learning and Empowerment Institute within the northern town of Mankulam, an area centrally located and once a stronghold of the LTTE. A 50 acre site has been allocated for the project, gifted to the Foundation of Goodness by trustee and international cricketer, Muttiah Muralitharan. Recently certified as completely de-mined by the UNDP, the site is located on the infamous A9 road, a highway which had been closed since 1984 and provides the main access from the Central Provinces to the northern capital, Jaffna.

Location of Site:
Northern Sri Lanka
picture from Article 25

The project is focused upon assisting the indigenous Tamil population rebuild their lives and is designed to provide the facilities and services which the Foundation of Goodness has identified as essential to helping those striving to lift themselves out of poverty. Facilities proposed at this stage in the project are a new school, community services that include a medical centre, women’s empowerment, children’s development and an extensive sports complex with full-size cricket pitch.

Many of the facilities proposed for the project have already been successfully implemented by the Foundation of Goodness in the South of the country in response to the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami which caused mass devastation across South Asia. With international funding, the southern project provides 30 sectors, servicing over 20,000 villagers from 45 villages annually, free of charge. Seven years after the tsunami the project continues to grow and change lives as it attempts to bridge the gap between the urban and rural communities.

Sri Lanka Architecture

MCC Centre of Excellence:
MCC Centre of Excellence Sri Lanka
picture from Article 25

Article 25 and the Foundation of Goodness have already begun working with the local community of Mankulam in order to develop trust and assess the needs of potential project users. A series of workshops have been carried out which have encouraged engagement with the local community and signified the start of community empowerment. These workshops will continue to be developed over the coming months to ensure that the community’s needs are identified and the relevant design responses carried out, all of which will contribute to a successful project.

Community Workshops:
Mankulam Community Workshops
picture from Article 25

With many northern community members still located in temporary accommodation and struggling to carry out daily tasks due to lack of money and infrastructure, a series of smaller projects are currently being developed by the Article 25 and Foundation of Goodness team. These will ensure development on an appropriate scale is established quickly and successfully. Potential projects within and surrounding the site include road-side shelters, English and IT teaching facilities, women’s activities and children’s programmes. Once established these projects will have the potential to increase to the medium and large scale, eventually encompassing the long-term Learning and Empowerment Institute.

As a result of destruction and lack of development over the past 30 years, much of the landscape of the North is dense scrub, woodland and jungle. This makes de-mining a laborious and slow task; however, now that certification has been achieved the coming months will see the project gain momentum. A masterplan for the entire site will be established, followed by a full detailed design of each building. Local conditions will need to be considered throughout the design process, one of which will be the availability of water. As a dry, hot area for a majority of the year, the collection and provision of water is essential. However, a yearly monsoon also requires adequate drainage. Local materials and local labour will also be used during the construction phase to ensure the sustainability of both environment and community throughout the project. On site skills training is likely to be needed, all of which will require the appropriate facilities. Article 25 and the Foundation of Goodness are also keen that the project maintains a Sri Lankan design language throughout, ensuring its appropriateness to its surroundings.

Site:
Mankulam site
picture from Article 25

Sri Lankan Building images / information from Article 25


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