Student: Nandaka Jayasinghe

Institution: City School of Architecture

Project: Center for Peace


This project is an academic exercise where students derived a philosophical design concept through the interpretation of a book. The project entails designing a ‘Centre for Peace’ on a water front site close to the Galle Face Green.

The UNESCO and the Ministry of Nation Building, the speculative clients for this project, envision this facility to be one which spreads a message of peace to all who visit it, while acting as a regional research & resource hub for peace.


The site selected for the project is located by the current outfall of the Beira Lake. This location has provided the site with water frontage on three sides of the site. Within the site there is a gradual gradient towards the water’s edge.

It was assumed that all defense and military related buildings currently in the immediate vicinity of the site would be relocated as part of a development plan for Colombo; it was further assumed that all new buildings around this area would be recreational in nature, while walkways would be introduced, enabling ample pedestrian movement and linkage to the public realm.


As the facility has both recreational and academic functions, it would cater to a broad spectrum of user categories including the general public, local and foreign tourists, students, professionals, people engaged in peace related research, political leaders…etc.

However the public oriented functions of this building would be more prominent and would cater to those users, primarily.


The book selected to be reviewed as part of the design exercise, was ‘A Clock Work Orange’ written by Anthony Burges in 1961, and later in 1971 turned into a movie by Stanly Kubrick.

This fictional novel is a comic comparison between extreme violence and peace. The story takes place in the distant future, where moral values have diminished to an all time low, and violence and crime are a way of life.

The story revolves around a young man named Alex, a hooligan who is involved with all forms of crime imaginable. Through a series of events Alex transforms himself from being an outright hooligan to a saint, and then back again to a hooligan.

“If he can only perform good or evil, he is a clockwork orange; meaning that he has the appearance of a living organism, lovely with colour and juice, but is in fact a clockwork toy to be wound by the hand of God or the devil” Anthony Burges

The essence of the story is that good and evil must prevail in order for a moral choice to be made. This statement is what goes on to become a stepping stone for the design philosophy.


In order for this building to effectively spread its message of peace, it should draw in as many people as it can from the surrounding public realm, while ensuring that the institutional functions are not disturbed by this influx of people.


Peace which is commonly defined as a lack of conflict is not applicable to all instances. Peace is in fact quite complicated in nature and extremely subjective.

The various qualities of peace have been interpreted through the built form of the facility, allowing its visitors to experience and understand them by meandering through the building.

The following qualities of peace have been incorporated in to the built form as follows,

Life is a constant struggle towards achieving peace. This would be done by having all pathways lead to a single dominant space or element which would symbolize peace.

Peace in its purest form cannot be achieved, it’s possible a certain level of peace which if achieved, will be short lived. This would be achieved by allowing ample visual connectivity to the main space or element, while curtailing physical connectivity, while this space or element would be very large or strategically positioned so that it could never be experienced in its totality. This space or the immediate vicinity of the element should be comfortable enough to make a person pause and ponder before moving on.

Peace is not a full stop at the end of a sentence; it is a comma in a long sentence called life. The pathways and the progression within the building will repeatedly lead back to this space / element, reinforcing this quality.

Peace is boring. The main space would be a lot more static in nature in comparison with the more dynamic spaces leading to it. Thus evoking a sense of curiosity in the visitor.

Peace is relative, one man’s peace may come at the cost of another man’s conflict. The building would use contrasting elements to drive this message through. Showing that there are two sides to a story.

Good and evil must prevail in order for moral choice to prevail. The building would show that absolute peace may not always be the most viable solution to a problem, while a solution would not always mean that all issues are resolved.


The building functions like a park where visitors would enter from different sides of the site; all these paths lead to the centre of the site which symbolizes peace through a series of solid cubes which would house the institutional functions of the facility.

These cubes would appear to float above a large space which overlooks the ground level of the facility. being recessed into the ground slightly creating a comfortable space to pause.

Through this space it would be possible to access the institutional functions housed in the floating cubes. It would also be possible to enter the gallery space below which acts as a pedestrian link through the facility from the water front pedestrian walkway to the proposed convention centre located next to the facility.

The floating cubes would be constructed out of thick terracotta louvered blocks enabling these spaces to be naturally ventilated while being insulated from the heat of the sun.

The building would also be powered using solar panels mounted on to the top of the building. While being completely hidden from the exterior, it would follow the sun path throughout the day ensuring maximum efficiency.