The launch of these sessions was held this week in Colombo and at this launch it was revealed that architecture has always been about conversations with the sky, the horizon and all it represents, in all its physical, spiritual, visual and environmental tributes.
Several ministers are scheduled to attend the inauguration of the sessions with Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, Minister of Health and Indigenous Medicine, expected to inaugurate the event.
The sessions would be addressed by several reputed international architects such as Glenn Murcutt of Australia, Bernard Khoury of Lebanon and Kevin Low of Malaysia. There would also be a galaxy of Sri Lankan expert architects addressing the sessions.The Business Times on the sidelines of the launch told Ms Prof Chitra Weddikkara, President, SLIA of the atrocious way how the government grabbed the lands of mostly shanty dwellers in Colombo, forcing and chasing them out, though the mandate of the government was only to acquire private land for public purpose and that the land-grabbing exercise would amount to a crime against humanity.
She said that certainly, there should be some fair basis of land acquisitions and it is the duty of all to look after the poor and give them their fair share. She said that when the land is acquired to put up high rise buildings, alternate land should be provided for housing from the same locality to those whose land has been acquired.
She said they discussed many of these matters during meetings with the Ministry of Finance.
In the latest budget, she said the government has taken some measures by reducing the prices of building materials such as cement, and is working hard on reducing tariff on imported building materials and how the whole gamut of affordability worked out, not for the elite, but for the poor, the poor man and the middleman.
She said that unfortunately their institute is helpless to make any contribution towards working out a formula to reduce land cost as it depended on the supply and demand. She said that land prices are very high in Sri Lanka and also construction costs in Sri Lanka are among the highest in the world.
Towards this move, she said architects in their institute are reducing the cost of designing to affordable levels for the poor and the middle-class. She said “We are indeed socially responsible people and persistently work to make housing affordable and throughout we have been deliberating on these lines and have continuous dialogue with the authorities towards providing housing to everyone, a basic need of the people”.(QP)