Part Two- Public Discussion, The Urban Landscape : Should We Ape the West? By Ashley de Vos

Part Two – Public Discussion
The Urban Landscape : Should We Ape the West?
A public lecture

By Ashley de Vos
Dip. (Arch.), FIA (SL)


Architecture is the process of building well, taking into account Culture, History, tradition, place, location, orientation, human needs and use, building layout, proportion, the solid to void relationship, use of materials, shading, thermal mass and comfort, ventilation, etc. Good building is not dictated by style or fashion, it has a timeless quality and this quality usually defines architecture.

Countries with strong and deep cultural roots, including traditional societies understood and used the process of ecological design in a holistic manner. A greater understanding of the traditional mind would facilitate a methodology to guide the contemporary builder and his building. A need to copy what others do is not a solution or an end, but a beginning of destruction. Copycat urban development’s and office parks end up as ghettos, devoid of life after working hours and at weekends.

Many of us have already forgotten that cities were created for people. We have completely forgotten the reason why cities exist and are changing our cities to fit the vehicle. This metal monster was never scaled to the requirements of the city. The gentrification of our cities is a sure indication that society is on the decline. It leaves many people especially the communities, the preservers and the repositories of the cultural matrix disorientated and helpless.

The high rise building is an expression conceived during the era of cheap oil and is still seen by some as the solution for all ills. The infrastructure requirements and maintenance is usually not considered. All public buildings, especially as they are constructed using public funds should always reflect a strong cultural context, a sense of place. They should grow out of, and belong to Sri Lanka and not be clones of bad buildings constructed elsewhere in the world. Is this new expressive gimmick driven trend, evidence of the end of culture or a revelation that no culture ever existed.

Part Two

Listen to the full public discussion here: youtube

Part One

Listen to the full lecture here: youtube

The lecture and discussion was held on Monday 29th August 2014 at 5.00 p.m. at the
Gamini Dissanayake Auditorium, No. 96, Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha, Colombo 07 and was organised by the Royal Asiatic Society Sri Lanka.

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