It has been revealed that about 50 percent of Colombo’s population lives in under-served, low-income settlements. This project seeks to look at new architectural possibilities for the regional housing predicament by providing flexible, adaptable and incremental residential units for more than 180 squatter families living in a coastal urban edge.

The main objective of the design is to provide a shared community pocket to support an interdependent community structure, while maintaining the individuality and ownership of the private housing units.  The subsequent spatial design caters to the perceived activity patterns of the community as well as the need to introduce new activities to sustain the community’s future.

The ability to personalise the interior and exterior to reflect one’s own individuality – without disrupting the housing environment as a whole – and the need to create a strong public realm have therefore been the key design parameters.

The planning of the settlement is based on a network of clustered housing units and pedestrian pathways, linking the whole community together. A typical cluster consists of approximately six to seven houses, opening out to a shared community space. The houses are informally organised around these organically-shaped community pockets, which provide the backdrop to community activities such as chatting, playing, entertaining, gardening and drying of clothes.

These pockets enhance the interaction of the community and are the only “voids” in this tightly built up settlement. These designed – ‘built-in’ – voids thus are the breathing spaces of the new community. The multi level nature of the building, however, required the ground-based community activities (voids) to be carried across to the upper levels to preserve the community identity and facilitate social interaction.

The building as such is designed as three parts:

(1) a structural skeleton with the associated provisions for wet services,

(2) modular dwelling units to be incrementally inserted to the given structural frame, and

(3) the communal ‘built-in voids’ organised around the dwelling units. The height of the building is limited to four storeys to achieve a walk-able building, while complying with the nominal building density regulations proposed for this type of buildings.

Client and Investor: Urban Development Authority

Click Here to Download PDF