Wishwa Madusanka Welikanna | University Of Moratuwa | Major Design Project 2010


Maha Lellama, which acts as the entranceway to the Doowa community is situated west of Negombo and is a bustling wholesale fish market that functions in accordance to the time based fishing process. Bearing a high concentration of low income fishing families, Maha Lellama is the binding core of the community which provides their essential means of livelihood through its fishing related functions. Defined by the people’s chaotic lifestyle patterns the existing wholesale market is characterised by a lack of proper infrastructural facilities and mismanagement which is apparent in most underserved communities. In the present situation the existing market space becomes dead around mid morning after the peak activity in the early auctioning hours and remains disengaged due to the unbearable stench.

The main objective of the project is to optimise the functionality of the market and to extend its usability as a public space for the Doowa community while blending into the existing character of the context.

Site Analysis

Bordered on three sides by the lagoon the site is easily accessible by both land and sea and acts as a transportation hub for the porting boats and lorries transporting fish from the country’s upper region. The urban context is zoned according to the activities revolving around the fishing process. The services pertaining to the wholesale market are zoned along the lagoon while the retail market is placed opposite the road. The pola is woven intermittently along the road as a by-function of the fish market.


The building is formed as an extension of the lines and patterns of the context and consists of three blocks generated through the activities of the urban context. The block facing the lagoon facilitates the services of the building which relate to the existing service activities of the area while the block bordering the by-roads house supportive functions for the upcountry retail market.

The building is designed not as a dominant feature but rather as a gentle part of the landscape that blends in seamlessly. The spaces, form and progression were developed to achieve this conceptual idea which primarily resulted in having the middle block and its surrounding open area as the main space, which is a linkage between the retail fish market, pola and the existing community pathways. The spaces are handled for the pola to run through the building and to merge with the surrounding paths.