Green revolution! | Daily News


Green revolution!

Architecture is the voice of the people. This is from the grass root levels of a society to the top decision makers. If Colombo or any city in the world for that matter have to undergo changes in the design of their cities then the mentality of the people, those big and small need to be on the same page. Arch World speaks to Chartered Architect Kumudu Munasinghe, on the all -pervading voice of the people when it comes to architecture.

The people sitting in leather armchairs in their Colombo offices make decisions but you cannot effect change without the consent of the small man. The small man drives society and acts as its pillars.

“Converting the Colombo city to a green city is difficult, yet it’s not impossible. With the climatic conditions such as precipitation, wind and temperature levels Colombo can be easily developed as a green city since it’s a tropical country. But the problem is the people’s mind set. First the thinking pattern should be changed into a level where all of them accept the value of a green city and its benefits. Then as I will mention below the landscaping, zoning and maintaining the number of storeys in a building will pave the way to generate a green city. The buildings should be without boundaries that open to the landscapes. The political interference in the design process should be limited,” explained Munasinghe.

Kumudu Munasinghe

Munasinghe points out that he would like to see Colombo be more of a Green City. “The city should be changed into a whole new level with more landscaping and with more shadings and proper ventilation levels to cater the human activities and patterns in the city. The number of storeys in a building should be limited to 8 -10 where the cityscape is people friendly and influences the environment in a positive way,” says Munasinghe.

“The whole city can be developed in a way where different zones can be introduced to the city with specific activities such as administration, entertainment, commercial activities and international coordination. The center of the city should be an entertainment zone where all the activities are centered in this zone. The key transportation hubs should be placed along this zone. The transportation facilities can be diverged from the center of the city to reduce the traffic difficulties. The government offices such as Ministries and departments should be located out of the Colombo high urban areas to suburbs to reduce the crowd reaching these government offices on weekdays,” said Munasinghe

Sri Lanka still has abundant rain, sunshine and wind. Heat is the only problem. That is the only factor that has changed through the years. When building a city there are many ways we combat this problem.

“There are many ways that heat can be tackled according to the design strategies. Providing more shades in the city by tree canopies is one option to reduce the heat in the city. That also supports the basis of the green concept. The number of storeys in a building can be limited to 8 – 10 where the cityscape maintains a constant height which would help to cast both shadows and required sunlight. The building facades can be designed to reduce the building reflection in the city that would accelerate the increase of heat indirectly. Water bodies can be located in the inner city that would probably help to decrease the temperature levels inside the city,” pointed out Munasinghe.

Munasinghe added that global warming is a macro scenario that we all contribute to more or less as humans. But at the micro level people can be more concerned of their immediate surroundings and the behavioral patterns.

“The concept of Biophilia (an innate and genetically determined affinity of human beings with the natural world) is a trending concept that applies mostly to the insides of the buildings and ambiences where the concept of green and eco is relevant. Biophilia factors that help to maintain the proper and comfortable climatic conditions can easily be introduced to the buildings in the city of Colombo as well. The Visual Connection with Nature, Thermal and Airflow Variability, Connection with Natural Systems, Material Connection with Nature, Prospect and Refuge are some factors of Biophilia. The architects and the designers should be given the knowledge of these trending green concepts and also the applicability of those concepts,” added Munasinghe.

Changing the mindset of the youth

Even though green concepts and ecofriendly applications are applied to building interiors temperature levels would not decrease in high numbers. The immediate physical context also matters to maintain the temperature levels of a building where both the building and the context should matter in a way which grabs the values of the environment.

“According to the legendary stories we’ve heard and experienced there is proof that we’ve inherited a unique epitome of architecture from our ancestors. Yet, the architectural expressions that have been evolved through the years have acquired a touch of Indian architecture.

I feel that most of our masterpieces have been influenced by Indian architecture in the period before the Portuguese invaded Sri Lanka. But with the arrival of the Europeans, Sri Lanka architecture was directed down another path,” said Munasinghe

He further emphasized that both the Aesthetics and the climatic responsiveness should be developed in parallel to each other. These two factors are very important when building.

Even though the climate has been changed at the global level, there are things we can do and contribute at the micro level which will affect the global climatic condition in a positive manner. The peoples thinking patterns should be remodeled to understand the values of having them both in a building - Aesthetics and the climatic responsiveness.

Munasinghe speculated on the question of how long it will take the rural areas to catch up with Colombo saying that will take more than 100 years to implement the urban trends in the rural areas of the country. If we look at Colombo ten years from now, there won’t be a huge development or a change, but the city will have more Apartment high-rises here and there, and several luxury hotels he says.

“In the design process of a city the government is one key party that is involved. But a wrong decision could put the whole project in jeopardy. Planning the city or buildings without a proper feasibility study is one of the key mistakes that are done. Another problem is planning according to a political agenda,” stated Munasinghe.

Tree canopies to combat the heat




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